Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis issued a directive to increase enforcement on the bridge after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation last month that designates the deadly 18-mile stretch a “highway safety corridor,” a national recognition that comes with new signage, increased fines and speed cameras.
Shortly after, around 1 p.m. on June 28, Davis was pulled over by a trooper for driving “at least 90 mph” on the bridge, according to a state police statement and video released on Thursday.
“Well I’ll be,” the trooper said before the body camera footage cut out. The remainder of the incident was recorded by the dash camera from the trooper’s patrol car, without audio. The two men talk briefly before shaking hands. Davis then returned to the SUV seconds later.
“Colonel Davis was stopped for a traffic violation on June 28th, 2022, while traveling west on Interstate 10 in the Troop A area,” Louisiana State Police wrote in a statement to WBRZ. “The trooper utilized his discretion and did not issue a citation.”
Davis discussed the incident with the television station on Friday.
“I was wrong. I admit that. I take full responsibility,” Davis said. “I try to do too much in a day, I need to practice what I preach and don’t want to put anyone in a position to stop me or any other trooper. I was wrong. There’s no excuse. I don’t believe in excuses.”
Davis apologized to the public and the trooper involved.
The incident came about a month before fines are set to double on the bridge, the site of 229 crashes resulting in two deaths and 89 injuries last year. The new law, Act 426, also installs eight sets of speed limit signs, six sets of signs restricting trucks to the right lane only and authorizes the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to install speed cameras to track drivers.
“What this will ultimately save is … lives,” DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson told lawmakers. “Because speed kills. Where people speed, you tend to have deaths when there are crashes and collisions.”
The legislation was sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and inspired by increasing crash statistics on the narrow bridge and Cortez’s personal experiences during his daily commute to Baton Rouge.
The new law preserves officer discretion on issuing tickets and ensures that no person will be subject to a citation from a camera if they are also issued a citation for the same offense by a police officer, Cortez said.
Wilson told lawmakers DOTD will only capture enough money from tickets to cover the cost of operating the camera system, sending the bulk of the fines to the two parishes along the roadway – Iberville and St. Martin.
The new law, including the doubled fines, become effective on Aug. 1, 2022.