Governor John Bel Edwards (D) joined Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, in a July 20 ceremony that officially updated the department’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan or SHSP.
[Above photo by the Louisiana Governor’s office]
The SHSP, updated every five years, identifies emphasis areas, strategies and tactics for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads across the state. Updates are developed with input from driver behavior safety experts, engineers, law enforcement personnel, emergency service providers and advocacy groups and is implemented is through ongoing activities by a variety of stakeholders and state agencies.
Based on data for contributing factors associated with fatalities and injuries, the emphasis areas for the 2022 plan updates are distracted driving, impaired driving, occupant protection and infrastructure and operations – which includes roadway/lane departure, intersections, and non-motorized users.
Strategies for each of these areas will be implemented through data that identifies potential behavioral and/or infrastructure issues using policies, programs and projects to positively impact the number and severity of crashes and target solutions to the appropriate geography and demographic.
Louisiana DOTD noted that preliminary data shows 971 people lost their lives due to a motor vehicle crash in the state last year – a 17 percent increase from 2020, where there were 828 fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021, a 10.5 percent increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020 – the highest number of fatalities since 2005, according to preliminary agency data.
“The statistics are alarming,” said Gov. Edwards in a statement. “The loss of nearly 1,000 motorists on our roadways is devastating and a number that desperately needs to decrease and be non-existent one day. With the safety strategies implemented by our agencies and safety partners, we aim to make all Louisiana public roads safer – where no one is killed or seriously injured in traffic-related crashes.”
“The safety of our roadways and our motorists is of the utmost importance of this Department and this Safety Plan provides quantitative data for strategies on improving the safety conditions throughout the state,” added Wilson, who also serves as the 2021-2022 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
“With the support of the governor and our partners on the federal, state, and local levels, we continue to work towards eliminating traffic-related deaths and injuries,” he said. “One death is one too many and it is our goal to reduce the number of crashes and severe injuries by 50 percent by 2030.”