resolve 2023
Dec. 29, 2022 - Learning a new language or keeping a daily journal are good New Year’s resolutions, but Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman hopes drivers will take on more serious commitments that can save lives.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen an alarming increase in traffic deaths, mostly because of driver behavior,” Freeman said. “Speeding, distractions, impaired driving – these are the leading causes of crashes, and they are a direct result of poor decision-making by drivers.”

In 2021, there were 315 fatal crashes in Louisiana that involved at least one driver who had been drinking, according to data from the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety at LSU. That number accounted for the most alcohol-related crashes reported in 13 years.

CARTS records also show people using mobile phones while they were driving caused 850 crashes that injured or killed someone. That number was the highest it’s ever been in Louisiana, and officials have repeatedly said those numbers are probably low because drivers in crashes are not likely to self-report mobile phone usage just before the crash.

“Distracted driving is one of those things in which people believe that everyone else is the problem,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t matter how good a driver actually is – if drivers are looking at or handling their phones while driving, they cease to be good drivers, and that’s how crashes happen.”

While not strictly a driver behavior, the lack of seat belt usage continues to be a major contributor to injuries and deaths in crashes. Last year, 52.8 percent of all people who died in crashes either were not wearing a seat belt or were not wearing it properly.
“Seat belts save lives,” Freeman said. “We can’t say that enough.”

Resolving to be a better driver is easier than losing weight, probably doesn’t require special classes and is much more achievable than other resolutions that often are forgotten in a few months.

“Just having good driving habits on your mind is key to being a better driver,” Freeman said. “We too often take driving for granted, as though it were an automated task. By focusing on our driving, we are more aware of what’s going on around us and help contribute to a safer Louisiana.”

The LHSC has produced a Safety Minute video on New Year’s resolutions. You can see the video here, on LHSC’s Facebook page.