BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Families traveling for Christmas this week may cause some congestion on the roadways.

State leaders are warning drivers to be extra cautious when visiting family.

“We have had 785 crashes, and we’re reporting 833 fatalities just this year alone,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson.

He said Louisiana has had a deadly year so far, but the holidays come with even more challenges.

“The majority of traffic related fatalities between the Thanksgiving and New Year holidays are mostly due to increased travelers,” Wilson said.

American Automobile Association (AAA) said this travel season might be one for the books.

“We’re anticipating nationwide, about 112 million travelers for the Christmas New Year holiday, which is about almost 4 million more than we saw this time last year,” said AAA Spokesman Don Redman. “2022 is racking up to be the third-busiest year in terms of people traveling since we’ve been recorded in 2000. Over the past 22 years.”

Louisiana State Police said there are smart ways to navigate the chaos.

“Wear your seatbelt, obey the speed limits, make sure that you are courteous to other drivers,” said Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission noted four main reasons for the tragic deaths over the past few years:

  • not wearing a seat belt,
  • driving impaired,
  • distracted driving and
  • speeding.

“These four intruders – ones that steal our joy and wreak such havoc in our families and in our communities – they should not be part of our holiday season,” said Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman.

They also advocated for the protection of first responders who help with wrecks and other workers, like tow drivers, as well.

“Someone in this line of work is killed every other week in America,” said Redman.

“You’re supposed to slow down, move over if possible, and proceed past the incident safely and carefully,” state Motor Assist Patrol Operation Manager Rick Ardis.

If we can follow these rules, families will receive the ultimate gift, “zero number of lives lost and zero number of injuries,” said Freeman.

State police said if you witness aggressive drivers, call them at *577.