Governor Edwards, DOTD Discusses the State’s Updated Highway Safety Strategic Plan
Baton Rouge, Louisiana – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards was joined by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson to discuss the department’s Highway Safety Strategic Plan (SHSP) update.
The SHSP, which is updated every five years, identifies priority areas, strategies and tactics to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads in the state. This is developed with input from driver behavior safety experts, engineers, law enforcement personnel, emergency service providers and advocacy groups and is implemented by the through ongoing activities by a variety of stakeholders and state agencies.
Preliminary data shows that 971 people lost their lives due to car accidents in the state last year. This is a 17% increase from 2020, when there were 828 deaths. The state saw the highest percentage increase in a year since fatality records were kept.
“The statistics are alarming,” Governor Edwards said. “The loss of nearly 1,000 motorists on our roads is devastating and a number that desperately needs to come down and be non-existent one day. Through safety strategies implemented by our agencies and safety partners, we aim to make all public roads in Louisiana safer, where no one is killed or seriously injured in traffic-related crashes.
“The safety of our roads and our motorists is of the utmost importance to this department and this safety plan provides quantitative data for safety improvement strategies statewide,” Wilson said. “With the support of the Governor and our partners at the federal, state and local levels, we continue to work to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries. One death is one death too many and our goal is to reduce the number of accidents and serious injuries by 50% by 2030.”
“When bad decisions are made while driving or riding in a motor vehicle, the consequences can be far-reaching. One bad decision by an individual can cause a devastating ripple effect of pain and suffering throughout an entire community of family, friends and loved ones. The Louisiana State Police works closely with our public safety partners to strengthen law enforcement and provide public safety education; however, we need every motorist to partner with us. This means avoiding distractions while driving, maintaining a safe speed, ensuring that every passenger is properly restrained, and never driving while impaired. Together we can make a difference and save lives,” said Col. Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.
“The increase in risky driving behaviors we’ve seen in Louisiana and across the country is as much a public health epidemic as any other community crisis,” said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. . “The inherent tragedy of road deaths is that they are preventable. Dangerous driving behaviors do not happen by chance. It’s a choice — a choice between driving sober or driving impaired; a choice between driving concentrated or driving distracted; a choice to buckle up and stick to the speed limit or be unrestrained and speed up. We urge everyone to make the right choice, the only choice that gives us a chance to arrive safely at our destinations.
Based on data on contributing factors associated with fatalities and injuries, the priority areas of the updated plan, which focus on older and younger drivers in each area, are distracted driving, impaired driving impairments, occupant protection and infrastructure and operations, which include departure roads/lanes, intersections and non-motorized users.
Strategies for each of these areas will be implemented through data that identifies potential behavioral and/or infrastructure issues using policies, programs and projects to positively impact the number and severity of accidents and target solutions based on appropriate geography and demographics.
Some of these strategies include:
- Increase education efforts and community outreach programs statewide and locally
- Strengthen laws and public policies to prohibit risky behaviors such as distracted driving
- Increase accountability through enforcement or other methods
- Identify, develop and deploy engineered solutions along corridors that experience serious crashes related to risky driving behaviors such as impaired driving or distracted driving
- Increase the number of child passenger safety technicians and CarFit in the state and educate local communities