Not all traditions should be continued this holiday season

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

As families across the state come together this holiday season, Louisiana State Police would like to see one holiday tradition come to an end. With the rise of holiday gatherings, parties, and shopping comes an increase in traffic on our highways. The holiday season is also traditionally one of the deadliest times on our roadways due to an increase in poor decisions both while behind the wheel and as pedestrians. Unfortunately, thus far during the month of December Troopers around the state have investigated a total of 27 fatal crashes resulting in 30 lives being lost on our highways.

Throughout the holiday season, Louisiana State Police is joining forces with other state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct proactive enforcement of common safety violations leading to motor vehicle crashes. In addition to increased DWI enforcement, Troopers will be focusing on motorists not wearing seat belts, unrestrained children in vehicles, and any dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, following too close, and driving while distracted.

"The removal of impaired drivers from our roadways will always remain a constant priority for Troopers and our law enforcement partners," explains Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson. "However, it is the individual responsibility of every citizen both as drivers and pedestrians to bring this deadly holiday tradition to an end. While the immediate effects of these crashes are felt by the victims' families, the consequences are often far reaching affecting friends, coworkers, first responders, and the entire community."

To combat this tragic trend, Troopers and law enforcement officials will be utilizing overtime grants to increase patrols and conduct specialized enforcement activities such as numerous DWI checkpoints planned across the state. In addition, many of the scheduled checkpoints will be conducted under the "No Refusal" campaign. According to research conducted by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, 251 alcohol related fatalities were reported across Louisiana in 2011 with nearly 7000 suspected impaired drivers refusing to submit to a breath alcohol test. The "No Refusal" initiative addresses this issue through the cooperative efforts of law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and district judges to quickly obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse the breath test. During these specific enforcement efforts, prosecutors and judges make themselves available to streamline the warrant acquisition process and help build solid cases that can lead to impaired driving convictions.

"No family should have to endure the grief of losing a loved one during the holidays," emphasizes Colonel Edmonson. "While Troopers statewide will be on constant patrol, the public and law enforcement must work together to prevent the needless loss of life on our roadways. We wish citizens across our state a happy holiday season and hope to see everyone making good responsible decisions."

To report impaired drivers or unsafe roadway conditions, dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you.

Citizens and visitors are also urged to enroll in Nixle Alerts for real time updates on roadway closures, crash locations, and pertinent safety information for their region of the state. To enroll visit, complete the required information, and select Louisiana State Police as your agency.

For more information regarding specific enforcement activities and safety campaigns in your area, please contact your local LSP Public Information Officer or visit the Louisiana State Police Facebook page.