Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Caution urged while driving during holiday

BATON ROUGE -The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging motorists to be extra cautious while driving during Thanksgiving – one of the most heavily traveled holidays of the year. The Thanksgiving weekend is also one of the most dangerous times for highway crashes and fatalities.

According to crash data collected by LHSC, the 2003 Thanksgiving holiday had 731 crashes, more than any other holiday period that year. An average of 13 people are killed each year in traffic crashes in Louisiana during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Col. James Champagne, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, says there are several ways drivers can help reduce their risk of being involved in a crash on the highway.

“The main causes of death and injury in highway crashes are preventable,” said Champagne.

One way drivers can help reduce highway crashes is to guard against driver fatigue. The Highway Safety Commission advises drivers who are taking long trips this Thanksgiving to pull off the road every few hours to stretch their legs and to take a break from the pressures of driving.

A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study also found that nearly 73 percent of child restraint systems were being used incorrectly, especially those for babies and small children. Proper child restraint installation guidelines can be found in both the vehicle owner’s manual and the child restraint system’s instruction manual.

During the month of November, State Police and many local law enforcement agencies are dedicating additional hours to enforce the state’s seat belt and other highway safety laws.