Defensive Driving: Stay Safe Knowing the Hazards in Louisiana

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says there’s an alarming trend of increased traffic fatalities nationwide. And the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) shows the state also had a higher number of fatalities in 2021. 

There were 997 highway fatalities in Louisiana in 2021, which topped the previous high-death mark set in 2007. 

​​“The number of fatalities in 2021 is alarming and we can easily stop this trend,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The fact that there are an average of three 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.”

So, is there a way to cut down on traffic crashes, injuries and deaths? Louisiana State Police say the worst hazards are drivers becoming too relaxed in their driving behaviors (drinking alcohol, multi-tasking, distractions inside the car) as well as the poor state of Louisiana’s roads. If you know what hazards to watch out for, it can make you a better, safer driver.

Hazard #1: Poor Roads

A top contributing factor for the high volume of motor vehicle accidents in Louisiana is the sad state of its road quality. According to data collected by the Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana was ranked seventh in the nation for the most dangerous roads. And when it comes to road quality it’s ranked second worst. 

The reason this can contribute to higher rates of traffic accidents is because a worn-out road surface means less grip and traction. This can result in longer braking distances and a higher likelihood of skidding off-course. 

Hazard #2: Errors in Driver Behavior

Of course, any ranking that describes Louisiana roads as “dangerous” is missing some context. Errors in driver behavior also contribute heavily to the increase in crashes. This includes the big three: 

  1. Distracted Driving: The road is full of drivers focused on what’s in their hands rather than what’s outside their vehicle. Things like talking or texting, changing radio stations, eating or drinking, grooming, reading, programming GPS directions, talking to passengers, etc. 
  2. Drunk Driving: Drunk driving comes with many of the same risks as other forms of distracted driving, but with the added complication that the driver’s judgment is severely impaired. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. Your reaction time, judgment and perception can all be altered and impair your driving ability. 
  3. Aggressive Driving: The poor rankings continue for Louisiana. A popular columnist says the worst drivers in the country are in Louisiana. And his opinion is backed by a few statistics, including rated first for driver failure to obey and fifth for careless driving. Speeding, road rage, tailgating and other aggressive driving behaviors put everyone at risk. Just because you take every precaution and follow every rule of the road doesn’t mean everyone else will. Other cars can still weave into your lane, follow too closely, neglect their turn signals, or pose any number of other threats.

Defensive Driving Tips to Keep You Safe

So what should you do if you’re on the road and encounter a fellow driver who’s distracted, drunk, or just plain aggressive? Well, you can’t control the actions of anyone else. But you can respond as safely and responsibly to them as possible. You might end up saving them, yourself, and innocent third parties from injury or disaster. The Louisiana Department of Insurance offers these additional defensive driving tips to help you make it to your destination safely:

  1. Maintain your vehicle. Have regular checkups, and make sure your tires are properly inflated and the lights work. 
  2. Buckle up. Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries after a crash. Yet thousands die each year as a result of being unrestrained. 
  3. Use smart driving positions. Keep both hands on the steering wheel, and position them at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, or 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock.  
  4. Maintain speed limits. Obey all speed limits and watch out for hazardous road conditions. 
  5. Adhere to the 3-second rule. When driving behind a vehicle, there should be 3 seconds of distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you. That space assures your ability to properly react if something happens. 
  6. Map out your route. Taking your eyes off the road to program or look at a map can be a major distraction. 
  7. Pay attention to the road. Distracted driving is dangerous and the cause of frequent, costly and often deadly accidents. Limit your distractions, and never use electronic devices to text or surf the web while driving. Drunk or drug-impaired driving, speeding and drowsy driving are dangerous. 

Unfortunately, no matter what precautions you take or how well you drive defensively, accidents still occur every day. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.