BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Officials are urging drivers to practice safe driving as another increase in traffic is expected during the upcoming holidays.

Thanksgiving weekend in Louisiana was the deadliest in seven years, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

“That’s unacceptable as secretary, it’s unacceptable in the positions that our partners have, those are families that are no longer going to be the same,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson.

In 2020, there were 828 fatalities compared to this year’s current number of 896.

“For two years in a row we’re one of 16 states in the country whose safety statistics have been missed in terms of the goals that we set,” said Wilson.

Louisiana State Police (LSP) reports that several crashes were caused by speeding, impaired drivers, and distracted drivers. LSP Superintendent Colonel Lamar Davis said the statistics are more than numbers, they’re people. 

“Unfortunately, every day our troopers have to face the most difficult part of their jobs in delivering death notifications. And frankly speaking, these families will never be the same, it will change the trajectory of many of these families,” said Davis.

Ahead of Christmas and New Year’s, state police will be stepping up their presence on the roads. Officials are asking drivers to also do their part by dialing *577 if they witness unsafe driving.

“We’re going to be looking for those that are not wearing their seatbelts, those that are driving unsafe,” said Wilson.

Road safety tips from DOTD:

  • Avoid driving while distracted
  • Allow for extra driving time
  • Make sure there is plenty of room between vehicles
  • Wear your seat belt
  • Don’t drive impaired
  • Be sure to use headlights if windshield wipers are on