L’OBSERVATEUR Editorial: Public helps keep River Region roads safe

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, June 3, 2014

• A motorist driving the wrong way on Interstate 10 in St. John the Baptist Parish Sunday morning in the westbound lanes struck an International truck.

• A Jeep Cherokee operated by a 16-year-old was traveling northbound May 16 on Coronado in St. Charles Parish and struck a motorcycle traveling eastbound on Louisiana 90 after the Cherokee’s driver disregarded a stop sign.

• A motorcycle rider was traveling eastbound on River Road in Ama May 17 when a Freightliner was traveling westbound on River Road at the same time.

The motorcycle operator approached a curve in the roadway, failed to stay in the lane, crossed the centerline and struck the front of the Freightliner.

Troopers on the scene reported the motorcycle operator was wearing a novelty helmet that was not DOT-approved.

All three of the above-mentioned River Region collisions resulted in fatalities and, unfortunately, barely spanned two-plus weeks.

That’s also just a snapshot of an accumulation of fatal wrecks that have devastated the region in the past couple of months.

It’s a problem that has certainly garnered the attention of grieving families and the Louisiana State Police.

A release sent out this week by Louisiana State Police stated troopers cannot be on every road and highway at the same time, and they rely heavily on the public to keep them informed of possibly impaired drivers, hazardous situations and anyone needing help. Residents can accomplish this by calling state police at *LSP (*577) to report dangerous activity.

“When a person calls the number, it should take them to the troop they are traveling through,” Trooper Melissa Matey said. “They will get an automated voice and they choose what they want, ‘to report a crash or hazardous situation press …’

“They will then be transferred to the desk sergeant to report the activity. Depending on the nature of the call, the sergeant may stay on the phone with the caller until a trooper is in proximity.”

Just because a caller tells authorities a vehicle is traveling recklessly, state police still have to develop probable cause to make a traffic stop, so a caller may, on rare occasions, have to testify, but that scenario is unlikely, Matey said.

Louisiana motorists who use the *577 line to warn authorities about dangerous situations can and do save lives, because they aid in preventing the worst-case results — a fatal wrecks — before they ever take place. Almost all fatal wrecks are preventable, and we can all play a part in keeping our roads safe.

“We also know that education is a very important factor in reducing serious injury/fatal crashes,” Matey said.

“We speak to thousands of people each year to educate them about the importance of wearing seat belts and driving sober. We are also working with our law enforcement partners across the state to reduce these numbers.

“However, the public is extremely helpful and should call us if they witness crashes, impaired drivers or hazardous situations.”