Louisiana highway safety officials are reminding thousands of fans driving to New Orleans for the 40th Annual Bayou Classic football game and the Battle of the Bands that Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most risky periods for traveling on the state’s roads.
“Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled holidays in Louisiana and the nation,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “When the normal Thanksgiving traffic combines with the tens of thousands of visitors to New Orleans for Bayou Classic events over a long weekend, the potential for congestion and crashes is significantly increased.”
Last year, over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, there were 689 injuries and five deaths in vehicle crashes in Louisiana. Blacks accounted for over one-third of the 2013 Louisiana highway crash deaths.
Last year, more than half of the people killed in crashes in Louisiana were not wearing seat belts. Of the 140 Black drivers killed in Louisiana crashes, 61 percent were not properly wearing seat belts. Although a 2013 survey found that seat belt use reached a record high in Louisiana, with 82.5 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers buckling up, the 77.4 percent of Black drivers and front-seat passengers who buckled up was below the state average for all drivers and passengers.
The Commission has provided grants to law enforcement agencies and State Police to participate in this year’s Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign, which runs from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30. Local agencies use the grant money to conduct additional overtime patrols and checkpoints during the holiday period.
“The Bayou Classic is a popular event that brings together friends and families from across Louisiana and many other states,” LeBlanc said. “We want everybody to make this an enjoyable and safe event.”
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission offers the following trips for safe travel:
– Arrange for a designated driver, call a cab or use other public transportation if you have been drinking alcohol.
– Buckle your seat belts. Louisiana law requires drivers and front and rear-seat passengers to wear their seat belts when a vehicle is in motion.
– Avoid driver distractions. State law prohibits drivers from texting and using social media.
– Drive within designated speed limits.