Editor's Note: The following information was provided by Trooper First Class Melissa Matey of the Louisiana State Police Public Affairs Section.

Sobriety Checkpoint Photo Courtesy of Louisiana State Police

Baton Rouge – Citizens across Louisiana have been enjoying the holiday festivities and Louisiana State Police would like to remind everyone of a few simple things to do in order to keep you safe. As we begin the countdown to 2016, celebrations across the state will increase traffic on our highways and unfortunately fatal and serious injury crashes can occur. The task of reducing crashes and preventing a holiday tragedy is the responsibility of both law enforcement and the public. Through preventative steps and safe choices by drivers and passengers in motor vehicles, the vast majority of holiday crashes can be avoided. Throughout this New Year’s holiday period, Troopers will partner with law enforcement across the state to conduct proactive enforcement in support of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign that began on December 18 and extends through January 3, 2016.

During the holiday period in 2014, 21 people were killed and 1,038 were injured on Louisiana highways. Alcohol impairment was a factor in over 50% of those fatal crashes. In the past week alone, Troopers have investigated 9 fatal crashes resulting in 13 tragic deaths across the state. As with crashes throughout the year, holiday tragedies on our roadways can often be avoided by always ensuring all occupants are properly restrained and never driving while impaired, fatigued, or distracted. This holiday, please have a plan in place before enjoying New Year’s Eve celebrations and make safety a top priority.

“Poor decisions behind the wheel can quickly turn joyous holiday festivities into a tragedy,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, State Police Superintendent. “The public and law enforcement must work together to prevent the needless loss of life on our roadways. We wish citizens across our state a happy and safe New Year and hope to see everyone making good responsible decisions.”

By understanding and following the safety guidelines below, motorists can greatly reduce their chances of being involved in a serious injury or fatality crash.

Thousands are seriously injured or killed due to impaired driving each year. Never get behind the wheel if you are impaired or get in a vehicle with a driver who is impaired.
Alcohol has many effects on the body. Alcohol can impair visual ability, impair fine motor skills needed to operate a motor vehicle, and increase reaction times. Just ONE drink may cause these effects. A designated driver is one who has had NO alcoholic beverages. Call a taxi, Uber, trusted sober person for a ride, or just stay at your location.

·Louisiana law requires that every person in a motor vehicle, regardless of seating position, always remain buckled. According to statistics, Louisiana’s seat belt compliance remains under the national average. Troopers urge all drivers and passengers in motor vehicles to understand that failure to buckle up can quickly become a tragic and fatal decision. Statistics show that the chances of surviving a violent crash rise significantly when properly restrained.

Inattentive and distracted drivers account for a large number of serious crashes across the state every year. You can effectively reduce the chances of being involved in a crash by remaining focused on the task of driving while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

If you travel on foot or bicycle, wear bright clothing, and remain aware of traffic on the roadway.
· Bicycles shall follow all the rules of the road as it pertains to vehicles.

Motorcyclists should wear a proper D.O.T. approved helmet when operating a motorcycle on Louisiana roadways. Although not all crashes are survivable, properly utilizing safety equipment like approved motorcycle helmets and proper clothing greatly decrease your risk of serious injury or death.

Motorists can report impaired drivers or unsafe roadway conditions by dialing *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police Troop closest to them. Motorists can also access up-to-date information about weather-related road conditions, construction activities and other critical incidents by dialing 511 from their phones. The voice-activated 511 Traveler Information System is available to most cellular and landline users.
Out-of-state travelers can access the system by calling 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).

Motorists can also access this information by visiting the 511 Traveler Information System Web site at www.511la.org or the “Way to Geaux” application may be downloaded and used to receive real-time around the clock travel alerts. The hands-free, eyes-free smartphone application can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android device by visiting either the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

For more information regarding specific enforcement activities and safety campaigns in your area, please contact your local LSP Public Information Officer (Troop I's PIO is Master Trooper Brooks David) or visit the Louisiana State Police Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LouisianaStatePolice.