What if no one died in auto accidents in Louisiana? That’s the goal of an ambitious new statewide initiative, and it’s one that Attorney J. Antonio Tramontana fully supports.

Destination Zero Deaths offers methods for law enforcement and others to positively impact the state’s transportation system. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and Louisiana State Police are all involved in the effort, part of the Louisiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

The strategic plan is a “comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach” to lessening the tragic consequences of fatalities and injuries related to devastating automobile accidents on Louisiana’s highways. A website and Facebook page are devoted to the effort, and citizens are encouraged to spread the word.Safe Roads in Louisiana - Lake Pontchrartrain

An Ambitious Goal

A spokesman for LADOTD said the plan’s Zero Deaths goal is ambitious but is worth pursuing, and Attorney Tramontana agrees. In 2014, according to the State Police, 740 people died on roadways statewide, and 73 fatalities occurred in the northwest northeast region of our state. Total fatalities are down from 987 in 2006, but remain too high.

Between 2009 and 2013, the leading cause of death on Louisiana’s northwest northeast region highways was roadway departure. Failure to wear seat belts and driving under the influence of alcohol also caused fatalities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over the past decade, fatalities related to people driving under the influence of alcohol have dropped by 27 percent, and the numbers continue to decrease. Nationally, the rate of fatalities that involved alcohol-impaired drivers decreased from 0.34 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2013 to 0.33 in 2014.

Another positive indicator at the national level is that seat belt use is up slightly, from 86 percent in 2012 to 87 percent in 2013, the NHTSA reports.

Developing Regional Plans

In Louisiana, the Strategic Highway Safety Plan includes strategies for all levels of government — local, regional and statewide. Nine regional safety coalitions are charged with working in cooperation with a number of entities and groups that have an interest in roadway safety, including emergency medical services, education, engineering and law enforcement. The coalitions and their community partners will develop regional safety plans using the state plan as a guide.

Each of the regional plans will look at accident-related issues that directly affect the specific region. Areas of focus will include impaired driving, infrastructure operations, protection of vehicle occupants, and younger drivers. Among drivers ages 15 to 24, the primary issues related to safety are risk-taking behaviors, immaturity and lack of experience behind the wheel, the NHTSA reports.

Louisiana initiative leaders note that reducing roadway fatalities across the state will require the involvement of multiple agencies and interested parties. Law enforcement cannot solve the problem alone.

Changing the Culture

One component of the Zero Deaths initiative is slashing the number of roadway fatalities in half by 2030. To meet that ambitious goal, the regional groups will look at crash data and will identify strategies that can reduce the numbers. They also will develop and implement action plans toward the goal.

Maj. Carl Saizan with the Louisiana State Police said that the state is in the midst of a culture change regarding automobile accidents and that change will require significant time, energy and local involvement. Some measures are already in place and are making a difference, he said.

Know what to Do in an Auto Accident

In the coming years, the Destination Zero Deaths initiative should reduce highway fatalities — and, with cooperation and vigilance by the public, may even eliminate them. In the meantime, if you’re in an accident, it’s important to know what to do. Immediately afterward, stay at the scene until law enforcement officers arrive, ensure that anyone involved gets medical treatment, and collect all the information you can about the accident.

If you’re injured in an accident, you should contact an experienced Monroe automobile accident attorney to learn about your rights. Your attorney also will assist you in securing the compensation you’re due from the insurance company and the at-fault party for your injuries and damage to your vehicle. To consult with an attorney now, contact J. Antonio Tramontana, Attorney at Law, at 318-340-1515.

Photo via Flickr by Infrogmation of New Orleans