Reducing Deaths and Injuries on Highways

 In Louisiana Car Wrecks

The latest statistics show that highway deaths are down nationally for the second straight year. The personal injury attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates feel strongly that even one fatality is too many. Unfortunately, our country is a far cry from reaching that perfect score.

On the bright side, there is some good news from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as far as highway crash fatalities in 2018. The agency reported a 2.4 percent decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities.

“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a press release.  The data shows that highway fatalities decreased in 2018 with 913 fewer fatalities, down to 36,560 people from 37,473 people in 2017. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4 percent (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.

Statistics are not in yet for 2019 but in South Louisiana, there was a slight decrease in 2018, according to Louisiana State Police in Lake Charles.

“In 2017, Troop D had a total of 36 fatalities,” Trooper Derek Senegal told KPLC television news. “In 2018 we had a total of 30 fatalities and so far this year, we’ve had 28 fatalities.” Senegal went on to say that many of the deaths might have been prevented had the victims been wearing their seat belts.

Buckle up whether you are in the front seat or the back seat. It is disappointing to learn that new federal data reveals that, in 2018 alone, 803 unrestrained rear seat passengers age eight and up lost their lives. Think of that tragedy – more than 400 of them might still be alive today had they worn their seat belts. The use of back seat seat belts is worse when it comes to taxis and ride-sharing vehicles. One survey found only 57% were using their seat belts.

Louisiana State Police Troop I in Lafayette confirm that Louisiana law requires backseat passengers to buckle up. “All passengers MUST buckle up regardless of seating position,” a spokesperson said. “An interesting statistic: a driver is twice as likely to die in a crash when the person seated behind him/her is not using a seat belt.” Also, Louisiana law, as of Aug. 1st now states you must be 13 years old to ride in the front seat unless a rear seat is not available.

§295.1. Safety belt use; tags indicating exemption
A.(1) Each driver of a passenger car, van, or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to those cars, vans, or pickups manufactured prior to January 1, 1981.
(2) A person operating or riding in an autocycle shall wear seatbelts while in forward motion.
B. Except as provided by R.S. 32:295 for children under the age of thirteen or as otherwise provided by law, each occupant of a passenger car, van, or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion, if a belt for his seating space has been provided by the manufacturer…

We recently wrote about Louisiana’s new laws regulating child safety seats. Parents should read them closely because they change how your child is secured in a vehicle. Any child who is younger than 2 years old must be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat until they reach its weight or height limit. A child cannot ride in the front seat until they are 13 years old. That’s quite a change that parents will want to discuss with their young teenagers to fully explain the new law.

New Louisiana Child Safety Seat Law
• Children under the age of 2 – must be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat.
• A child who is at least 2 years old and has outgrown the rear-facing seat will need to be restrained in a forward-facing restraint system with an internal harness.
• A 4-year-old child who has outgrown the forward facing, internal harness system shall be restrained in a belt-positioning child booster seat.
• At nine year’s old, children who have outgrown the booster seat may use the adult safety belt fastened correctly.
• Under 13 years old – Ride in the back seat of the car, if rear seats are available.
• A child who can be placed in more than one category shall use the more protective one.

Our federal, state and local governments are working diligently to get the word out about how to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. We all know them yet so many people are seriously injured or killed because of someone’s failure to heed the advice: Buckle up. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Speed kills. On the positive side, these campaigns do seem to be making a dent, at least according to NHTSA research:

• Fatalities among children (14 and younger) declined 10.3 percent;
• Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined 3.6 percent;
• Speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7 percent; and
• Motorcyclist fatalities declined 4.7 percent.

In addition to the 2018 numbers, NHTSA also released initial estimates for the first half of 2019, which suggest that this overall positive trend may be continuing. Let’s hope so.

Safety is of the utmost concern to the personal injury lawyers at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette. We encounter many instances of negligence that results in serious injuries and fatalities. There are always steps all of us can take to make driving and riding in a car or truck safer. Reducing your risk of personal injury is the most important step, but if you or your child have been injured in a car accident, please call us at 337-232-8123. The law offices of Joseph Joy and Associates can ensure you get proper legal representation, and the compensation you deserve.

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