Most unrestrained in holiday fatalities

Staff reports

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana State Police investigated eight fatal crashes on state highways over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and found 13 of the 16 people killed were not wearing seatbelts.

The 16 deaths occurred across the state from Nov. 27-29, including the multiple fatalities and critical injuries involving several people in a Saturday minivan crash on Interstate 10 in Ascension Parish.

Alcohol use is suspected in four of the crashes, according to Sgt. Markus Smith.

Troopers while continue their aggressive public education and enforcement campaigns to promote seat belt and child restraint use, Smith said.

Police will also continue to warn of the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted.

State law now requires all vehicle occupants, regardless of age or seating position, to wear a seat belt, Smith said. All children under the age of 6 must be properly restrained or in a booster seat, he added.

Aside from alcohol, drugs can also impair drivers. Smith said prescription and over-the-counter medications can result in a DWI arrest if a driver’s abilities are impaired.

Troopers also warn against distracted driving caused by using cell phones, operating electronics or eating.

Smith added that text messaging while driving is illegal in Louisiana.