BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – 2021 was the deadliest year on Louisiana roads and highways since 2007, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

The official report will not be complete until the end of March, but preliminary data is cause for alarm. In 2021 there were 914 crashes and 997 fatalities, which is a significant jump from 2020 and is the highest fatality rate since 2007 when there were 993 fatalities.

“The number of fatalities in 2021 is alarming and we can easily stop this trend,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in the DOTD release. “The fact that there are an average of 3 deaths per day on Louisiana highways is unacceptable. If travelers would obey the traffic laws, wear their seatbelts and be patient with one another, we could see these numbers go down considerably. Please keep the people who died in crashes in your thoughts and prayers – there are nearly 1,000 family members who died in 2021.”

The DOTD cites several factors for the increase in road traffic collisions, including risky driving behaviors such as impaired and distracted driving as the cause of most highway fatalities.

“It’s extremely disheartening to see our highway fatality statistics soaring in the wrong direction,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “We consistently stress to everybody the dangers of distracted and impaired driving and the importance of seatbelts, but we have to do better. Having nearly a thousand fatalities on the road in a year is inexcusable, unacceptable, and frightening, especially when the vast majority of them are preventable. There is not one parish in the state that did not witness at least one accident. We have to do better Louisiana; it’s everyone’s responsibility.”

Statewide crash data statistics from 2017 to 2020 indicates 40 percent of all highway fatalities involved alcohol.

“As first responders, our personnel witness the devastating effects of motor vehicle crashes every day across the state,” said Col. Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police Superintendent. “Although most involve damage to property, we are witnessing far too many that result in the loss of life. Troopers will continue to work closely with our public safety partners. But the goal of reducing crashes and saving lives can only be accomplished through a partnership with the motoring public. We will continue to raise awareness through ongoing enforcement of dangerous driving behavior and community education and outreach. However, we encourage all drivers and occupants to always remain properly restrained, avoid all distractions behind the wheel, and never drive impaired. Together we can make a difference and reduce these tragic statistics. Together we can save lives.”

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission roadway deaths are tragic and preventable; these deaths are a public safety crisis that begins and ends with safe driving practices based on common sense.

  • Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly buckled up.
  • Don’t drive impaired by alcohol or other substances.
  • Give the act of driving the high concentration it deserves by not being distracted by anything that takes your focus off of operating the vehicle.

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“This is the basic recipe for reducing Louisiana’s over 40 percent alcohol-related roadway deaths and its over 50 percent unrestrained traffic fatality rate,” said Lisa Freeman, Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “We can, and we must, do better. Lives literally depend on it.”