LA Highway Safety Officials urge safe holiday driving

By Jade Cunningham |

Published 06/27 2014 12:14PM

Updated 06/27 2014 12:18PM

With the Independence Day holiday falling on Friday, Louisiana highway safety officials warn traffic will likely be heavy on the state's roads as many take advantage of the holiday weekend. 

Louisiana State Police and law enforcement agencies from across the state have joined the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, which features officers working additional overtime patrols July 2nd-6th. 

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is a nationwide effort coordinated in Louisiana by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

An estimated 90% of holiday travel is by personal motor vehicle, meaning the long Independence Day weekend will likely see thousands of additional cars on Louisiana roads.

"More vehicles on the road and people driving longer distances usually results in more crashes, more injuries and more fatalities," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "Alcohol is a factor in more than 40% of all vehicle crash deaths in Louisiana, but drunken driving is often even more prevalent during holidays such as the Fourth of July."

In 2012, the most recent year for which final statistics are available, alcohol was a factor in all three of the traffic deaths during the Independence Day break. 

In addition to the fatalities, 207 people were injured during the 2012 Independence Day holiday in Louisiana.

Traffic fatalities in Louisiana have been declining over the past several years and officials attribute at least part of the improvement to safety programs such as Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

"The high visibility campaigns we have coordinated are raising awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and other behaviors that can result in fatal and injury crashes," LeBlanc said. "We concentrate these campaigns during periods when more vehicles are on the road and impaired driving is a greater problem."

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Louisiana, with a first-offense arrest costing as much as $1,000 in fines, plus court costs and even jail time. An adult driver can be arrested in Louisiana if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher. The limit for drivers under 21 is .02 BAC.

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