OUR OPINION: Buckle up awareness increased by fatalities
Louisiana State Police investigated eight fatal crashes resulting in the deaths of 16 people in Louisiana during the Thanksgiving holiday period from Nov. 27-29.
Troopers say alcohol was the common factor in only four of the crashes. They say 13 of the sixteen occupants killed were not wearing seat belts, making lack of seat belt restraint the overriding common factor in loss of life.
Most everyone in Ascension is aware that six of the occupants killed over the Thanksgiving weekend were occupants in the minivan which crashed just inside the parish line. The van was carrying two adults and 13 children from Harahan to Baton Rouge, but the children in the van were not restrained.
Five children in the minivan were killed, as was the adult driver who did have on a seat belt.
Every death resulting from an automobile accident is a tragedy, but the horrific images from the Ascension crash will long be a reminder for all of us that seat belt usage saves lives.
Louisiana law since this summer requires all vehicle occupants, whatever their age or seating position, to wear seat belts. Children under age six must be restrained in a child restraint or booster seat.
There is a reason for this law: Seat belts and proper restraints save lives.
Troopers say they will continue their aggressive public education and law enforcement campaigns to promote seat belt use, and to warn drivers of other dangers such as driving while impaired or distracted.
State Police continuously see impaired drivers on state highways. Alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs and over the counter drugs can impair drivers. When this occurs, the impaired drivers endanger not only themselves, but other motorists in their vicinity.
Distracted drivers using cell phones, operating electronics or eating food while driving also endanger themselves and their fellow drivers. Text messaging is not only dangerous, it is illegal while driving in Louisiana.
We appreciate all the efforts of State Police to keep Louisiana highways safe, and we hope drivers will continue boarding the bandwagon that leads to safe motor vehicle use.
The highways deaths over this Thanksgiving holiday period caused primarily by improper seat belt usage should be a wake up call for everyone.