John A. LeBlanc, who oversaw unprecedented improvements in Louisiana's highway safety record, announced Monday he will retire later this month from his post as Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
LeBlanc, who was appointed as executive director in May 2008 by Gov. Bobby Jindal, has served Louisiana in law enforcement and highway safety positions for 35 years under four governors. Under his leadership at LHSC, the number of people who are killed and injured each year on Louisiana's highways has dropped while seat belt usage has risen.
LeBlanc expressed appreciation to Governor John Bel Edwards and to former governors Bobby Jindal, Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster, all of whom allowed him to serve in various positions during their tenures.
"I am grateful I had a chance to work with such outstanding leaders," LeBlanc said. "Little did I know when I started as a State Police Trooper back in 1981 that I would have a chance to positively impact the lives of Louisiana citizens on such a large scale. I appreciate the opportunity to serve and help save lives."
When LeBlanc was appointed to the LHSC in 2008, 917 people had died in crashes on Louisiana roads. In 2014, the latest year for which verified statistics are available, that number had dropped to 728 people, a reduction of more than 20%. The fatality rate in Louisiana - the number of fatalities that occur per 100 million miles traveled - also dropped by more than 20 percent during that time period.
LeBlanc said he is pleased Louisiana's highway safety record has improved under his watch. He said the decrease in lives lost on Louisiana highways should be accredited to a comprehensive effort given by many highway safety advocates and partners, and he hopes the positive trend continues, with even greater improvements made in the areas of seat belt usage and impaired driving.
"Our seat belt record is improving, but it should be higher," LeBlanc said. "I also hope the state continues some of the strong inroads we have made to drastically reduce drinking and driving in Louisiana."
LeBlanc initiated and expanded many impaired driving programs, including:
- Expansion of DWI courts from three to ten, all of which receive operational and training funding from LHSC
- Implementation of the LA Driving electronic DWI arrest report system, a system that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system's processing of DWI arrests
- Expansion of Louisiana's Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program from five certified DRE officers in the state to more than 65 certified DRE officers
- Implementation of "No Refusal" programs as a statewide strategy, which has resulted in fewer trials, more convictions and more appropriate sentences in the jurisdictions that have implemented the impaired driving program
Prior to his LHSC appointment, LeBlanc served in a variety of positions with Louisiana State Police, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel - Deputy Superintendent of Patrol. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served as a member on numerous state and national boards and associations.