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High number of Louisiana traffic deaths during Thanksgiving

December 10, 2021 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Thanksgiving weekend was Louisiana’s deadliest for traffic crashes in seven years.

The state Department of Transportation and Development said Thursday that a total of 15 crashes and 20 fatalities were reported between Nov. 24-29, The Advocate reported.

“This is not an urban problem; it is not a rural problem,” said Shawn Wilson, transportation secretary. “It is a driver problem throughout the state of Louisiana.”

Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said theories for the high number of traffic deaths include road rage, motorists using the roadways to blow off steam and good drivers avoiding the roads.

“All of those things are probably true,” Freeman said.

Roadway fatalities statewide already had exceeded the total for 2020, with 828 deadly traffic accidents last year and 896 so far this year. And the 2020 number of traffic deaths was the highest number since 2008, according to the safety commission.

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“Most of these accidents are 100% preventable,” said Col. Lamar Davis, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police. “These families will never be the same.”

The state set a record despite Louisiana having the fewest motor vehicle crash injuries since records started being kept in 1988, according to The Advocate.

“Fewer cars led to fewer injuries in 2020,” Freeman said. “However, less traffic led to more speeding and too many people were not wearing their seat belts, which always leads to more fatalities.”

Bicycle crash fatalities rose 54% last year, pedestrian deaths went up 19% and motorcycle crash fatalities fell by nearly 6%, the commission said.