Checkpoint cracks down on safety violations

Michael Tortorich
Louisiana State Police and Ascension Parish deputies conduct a safety checkpoint Tuesday morning on Hwy. 30 west of Airline Hwy.

Safety was the focus for authorities Tuesday morning as they conducted a checkpoint in Ascension Parish.

Louisiana State Police Troop A and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office motorcylce deputies teamed up for a safety checkpoint on Hwy. 30 west of Airline Hwy.

State Police spokesperson Trooper Russell Graham said they were looking out for overall safety. They mainly were checking for seatbelts, valid inspection stickers, illegal window tint, sufficient insurance and proper child restraints.

Troopers and deputies screened more than 400 vehicles and issued more than 60 citations within the four-hour period, according to Graham.

One motorist was cited for driving without insurance, and had their vehicle towed.

Most motorists, 26 in all, were cited for expired or no motor vehicle inspection sticker. Other citations included: eight for not wearing a seat belt, three for children unrestrained, four for illegal window tint, eight for expired/suspended/no driver’s license and five for license plate violations. Eight others received warning tickets.

“If we screen 400 vehicles and only issue five citations, that is a positive thing,” Graham said. “That tells us that more people are adhering to the state’s traffic laws.”

Graham said much of the checkpoint involved educating people on traffic laws.

“It’s more awareness than anything,” Graham said.

Progress has been made in getting people to obey the law, especially when it comes to buckling up, Graham said.

In the past, as many as half of the people authorities would stop in checkpoint operations were caught without seatbelts, according to Graham, but that percentage has since lowered.

A checkpoint was conducted in Livingston Parish Monday, and more checkpoints have been planned for East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes. Graham said more troopers and deputies are on the roads now, so motorists can expect to see more checkpoints to come, at least through the Mardi Gras season. Sheriff’s offices and local police departments have all joined up with troopers to create more awareness to the public of traffic laws.

Graham said checkpoints have proven to be a “valuable tool” in promoting safety.

“It was not too long ago that this checkpoint would have resulted in more than triple the amount of seatbelt citations issued,” he said. “People are beginning to understand that seatbelts save lives and we are seeing a higher rate of seatbelt use than ever before.”

Authorities are ramping up enforcement, especially since they have seen a trend around Louisiana in the lack of seatbelt use.

State Police Troop A, which covers the greater Baton Rouge area, has already reported four fatal automobile accidents this year. In the latest incident, an unrestrained driver died in Ascension Parish after striking a tree along Interstate 10.