Last Monday, a fatal car accident claimed the life of one Baton Rouge man. According to reports, Andre Anderson, 43, was pronounced dead from injuries obtained when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle on the road late Monday night.
According to a recent WAFB-TV report, Anderson’s Suzuki motorcycle slammed into the passenger side of a Ford Taurus while driving east on Burbank Drive (LA 42). Courtney Jones, 20, of Baton Rouge was the driver of the other vehicle involved. The crash occurred when Jones drove the opposite direction on the roadway and was attempting a left turn onto Pecan Tree Drive.
Police on the scene reported that Anderson was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash but it was not properly secured. Following the crash, Anderson was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center but his injuries proved to be too severe and was pronounced dead shortly after.
Jones only suffered minor injuries and was treat on the scene. Natasha Jones, 19, of Miami, FL was in the vehicle with Jones at the time of the crash but only suffered minor injuries and was taken to Baton Rouge Medical Center.
Currently, no charges have been filed but Louisiana State Troopers are still investigating the crash.
Related, a recent Governors Highway Safety Association study recently found that motorcycling fatalities in the U.S. had dropped 10 percent in 2009. They estimate that motorcycle deaths declined from 5,290 in 2008 to 4,762 or fewer in 2009.
Louisiana law enforcement and highway safety agencies are teaming up to increase the enforcement and education of seat-belt use. As part of Louisiana’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which began this week and runs through June 6, law enforcement officials will be more strictly enforcing seat-belt laws in an attempt to educate Louisiana motorists on the importance of seat-belt safety. The goal of the program is to raise Louisiana’s seat-belt use to the national average and reduce the number of fatal car wrecks cause by unbelted motorists.
To support the program, the state of Louisiana will add more patrols by local and state police and place more than 2,500 new “Buckle Up, America” signs on state roadways.
According to a WBRZ report, Louisiana’s seat-belt use rate has remained consistent since 2004 at 75 percent. Comparatively, the national average for seat-belt use in 2008 was 83 percent. State officials estimate that every percentage point between 75 percent and 83 percent represents eight lived lost from misuse or non-use of seat-belts.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission estimates that the state’s cost for all traffic injuries and fatalities last year was around $1.23 billion. These costs include medical costs, public services, property damage and employer costs. The commission and authorities believe that this program will help save lives but also save the state money, which they can use for more needed programs.
According to the WBRZ article, 65 percent of the nearly 900 people that died in traffic accidents in 2008 were not wearing their seat-belts properly. The commission believes that seat-belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers in car by 45 percent and back-seat passengers by 60 percent.
The commission provided law enforcement agencies statewide with $1.3 million in state funds to pay officers overtime to conduct seat-belt enforcement in their communities during the campaign.
There are certain conditions that make some stretches of road more dangerous than others. Louisiana’s Highway 90, located on the westbank of the state, is one of those perilous roadways.
Sources report that the danger on Highway 90 stems primarily from the fact that that stretch of road is populated by a great number of trucks on a daily basis. The road goes through an area where two landfills, a marina and multiple Corps of Engineers projects are located.
Some Louisiana drivers complain that the trucks drive irresponsibly, as if they own the roadway. Drivers claim some truckers drive too fast and fail to grant the right of way to other cars on the highway.
The 6 mile stretch of Highway has no traffic signals, a fact that some identify as another prime culprit leading to the 800 accidents and 4 deaths that have taken place on Highway 90 in the past 4 years.
A lack of traffic lights is not helped by the high number of U-turn openings within the short stretch that do not have a proper turning lane. Drivers who need to turn around basically hold their breath and hope that traffic behind them will see their turn signal in time to go around the stopped vehicle.
As you can likely imagine, with the average speed on that highway being above 55mph, drivers do not always see the car in time and cause serious car wrecks. State authorities in Louisiana are waking up to this danger on Highway 90 and plan to address the problem of the dangerous U-turn setup by eliminating 8 of the openings.
Some Louisiana drivers, including employees from a landfill on the Highway 90 stretch, feel that traffic lights are needed to further increase driver safety in the area. The state has no current plans, however, to accommodate that recommendation.
The roads are a dangerous place, a fact more and more Americans are becoming increasingly conscientious of with all of the new distracted driving legislation taking place. A proposed bill in Louisiana, however, does not seek to stop drivers from texting while driving, chatting on the phone while driving or even from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state’s proposed legislation seeks to impose a law to prevent the most obvious of irresponsible driving behaviors: sleeping while behind the wheel.
Representative Jerry Gisclair brought this proposed bill in front of the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. With the help of the Charpentier family, Gisclair successfully convinced the committee that sleeping drivers who kill someone in a car wreck should be eligible to face charges of involuntary vehicular homicide.
An offender found guilty of sleeping while driving and therefore involuntary vehicular homicide would face a maximum of 250 hours of community service and a two-year suspension of their driver’s license.
As mentioned earlier, the Charpentier family effectively supported Gisclair’s cause due to a related, tragic loss they have suffered because of a sleeping driver. They emotionally told the committee their story of the painful loss of their son who died when a trucker fell asleep behind the wheel and hit him. While the family does support Gisclair’s efforts to charge sleeping drivers more harshly, the victim’s father, Anthony Charpentier, still thinks the bill should demand tougher penalties for the crime.
The bill must now pass through the House floor in order to move forward. If passed as it is now written, the change in law would apply to drivers of cars, boats, trucks and aircrafts. Louisiana would only be the second state, after New Jersey, to enact sleeping while driving laws.