Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Safe driving this summer

21st July 2014   ·   0 Comments

From teenagers being out of school and spending more time behind the wheel to long road trips to favorite vacation spots, summertime on the road presents everyone with safety challenges. During July and August of 2012, the most recent year for which final statistics are available, 113 people were killed in crashes in Louisiana.

As most people are aware, teen drivers tend to have more crashes than their older counterparts, mainly because of their more limited experience behind the wheel. Some teen drivers, especially boys, can also be more prone to engaging in risky behaviors, such as distracted driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts. Whether it’s driving to and from summer jobs, going on errands for parents, visiting friends or simply cruising around with other kids, teen drivers should be closely monitored by parents.

Youthful drivers need to be reminded over and over to take basic safety precautions, such as always wearing seat belts, not consuming alcohol or other drugs, not texting or using cell phones, and obeying all traffic laws. The reality is that the problem of impaired driving is not just about alcohol; drugs also affect driving ability. Illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs can also have impairing side effects, often affecting each person differently.

Louisiana law prohibits all drivers, regardless of age, from texting or using social media while driving. Additionally, drivers under 18 may not use any wireless device – including cell phones and computers – while operating a motor vehicle.

Adults need to take the same safe-driving precautions as teens. While impaired driving is a year-round problem, it can be worse in some months. For example, an estimated 30 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in July 2012, the second highest monthly total that year, behind only May, when 34 people were killed in such crashes.

In 2013, Louisiana’s highway death rate declined. The key to continuing this is for all motorists to follow essential safety rules: always wear seat belts, don’t drink and drive, avoid distractions and other forms of aggressive driving. We should always follow driving safe driving procedures, but it is especially important to do so when our roads are busy with additional travelers.

– Lt. Col. John LeBlanc
Executive Director
Louisiana Highway Safety Commission

This article originally published in the July 21, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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