Responsible decisions are essential this 4th of July

Published 7:51 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As Washington Parish residents and the rest of the country prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, Louisiana State Troopers are partnering with local law enforcement in a cooperative effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone.

With the onset of Fourth of July activities comes an increase in traffic on our highways and social gatherings across the state, state police officials said. The festivities can also lead to an increase in alcohol consumption resulting in poor decisions both while behind the wheel and as pedestrians.

In an effort to reduce alcohol related crashes this Fourth of July holiday, law enforcement agencies across the state are working together to save lives by keeping impaired drivers off the road and promoting safe walking practices to citizens of all ages.

“While the removal of impaired drivers from our roadways remains a constant priority for Troopers and our law enforcement partners, recent pedestrian crashes across our state highlight the importance of being safe while walking or standing near highways,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson.

As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian crash fatalities have declined dramatically since 1975, but still account for thirteen percent of crash deaths. Considering nearly three-fourths of pedestrian fatalities occurred in an urban setting and almost 90 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during normal weather conditions, Troopers urge partygoers to remain vigilant when near busy roadways especially after the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Similar to the dangers of impaired driving, pedestrian impairment plays a major role in the occurrence of crashes with alcohol involvement reported in 48 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide. Fifty-one percent of pedestrians sixteen and older killed in 2010 had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent.

Citizens across Louisiana are urged to remember the importance of personal safety and responsibility both as drivers and pedestrians keeping in mind several safety tips while enjoying the festivities.

• Plan a safe way home before the party begins;

• If driving, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;

• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;

• When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk stopping to look left, right, and left again before crossing;

• Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing reflective clothing that helps to highlight body movements;

• Pedestrians walking along a non-interstate highway are required to utilize sidewalks where accessible or walk along the left shoulder as far away from the roadway as possible;

• Pedestrians should walk against the flow of traffic, wear light colored clothing, and stay out of the travel lanes at all times.

•In addition, Louisiana law prohibits pedestrians from walking upon any interstate highway regardless of lighting and road conditions.