More drivers died on Louisiana roads in 2021 than any year in over a decade, highlighted by a record number of pedestrian fatalities statewide and in East Baton Rouge Parish .
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, 972 people died on Louisiana roads in fatal crashes in 2021, an increase of 17% from 828 statewide in 2020.
East Baton Rouge Parish leads all parishes in the state with 104 total fatalities from 99 crashes, compared to Orleans Parish in second place with 69 total fatalities from 62 crashes.
While Orleans Parish used to have more road deaths each year, East Baton Rouge has seen more road deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the gatekeeper said. word of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, Mark Lambert.
Since 2020, East Baton Rouge has had 247 road deaths to 98 road deaths in Orleans Parish.
Pedestrian fatalities have been particularly prevalent in East Baton Rouge, as 25 of the parish’s 104 total traffic fatalities in 2021 were pedestrians.
“You already have a fairly stable pedestrian population in New Orleans where people walk a lot more,” Lambert said. “Baton Rouge is a much more car-centric city. With the pandemic, it’s possible that more people have started walking, so you have more pedestrians.”
Since the start of 2020, East Baton Rouge has recorded 16% of the total number of pedestrian fatalities in the state, followed by Orleans Parish at 10%.
Of the pedestrians killed in East Baton Rouge last year, Lambert said, many were in similar areas of the parish town when they were hit.
Lambert said the downtown area, areas along Interstate 110 to the freeway’s intersection with Airline Highway, near the LSU campus and the Gardere area were where most of the deaths of pedestrians took place.
The common thread, Lambert said, was the number of pedestrians walking through these areas.
“On campus and in places like the Gardere area, there are a lot of people walking in those neighborhoods,” he said. “We also see a lot of pedestrians getting hit at night along the Airline Highway north of Florida Boulevard.”
Lambert noted that the pandemic has marked a significant change in the number of road deaths in East Baton Rouge, as more aggressive drivers have led to increased fatalities.
“We are seeing dramatic increases in aggressive driving and speeding that started with the lockdown in 2020 where, for the first time in a long time, the freeway was clear and some aggressive drivers took advantage,” he said. he declares. “We’ve seen a lot of single-vehicle fatalities.”
Helmut Schneider, the state’s top traffic analyst and executive director of LSU’s Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety, which conducted the research, said driver aggression was a major cause of the spike in fatalities. on the roads.
“Driver behavior has certainly changed during COVID-19,” Schneider said in an LHSC statement. “Drivers could change their behavior to be more careful…but it’s probably a slow process. It will take some time.”
In an effort to reduce the number of road deaths in the parish town, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced an initiative earlier this month that pledges a “commitment to a goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roads and streets by 2040.”
To track progress towards the goal of zero deaths, Broome said, the parish town has also pledged to cut the number of deaths by half by 2030 and by two-thirds by 2035.
“Our residents and businesses tell us that safety is their biggest concern when using our streets,” Broome said. “That’s why the parish town has embarked on a multi-year effort to reduce deaths and injuries on local roads that often exceed the number recorded by other comparable municipalities.”
Broome noted that the parish town has used revenue from the MOVEBR capital improvement program to redesign and rebuild roads, streets and intersections to add new safety features.
“With over 65 additional miles of new bike lanes and over 100 additional miles of sidewalks currently being planned or designed as part of our MOVEBR program, we are working to make our streets safer and more accessible to everyone,” she said.
Lambert said people walking on the edge of the roadway or on a sidewalk should walk towards oncoming traffic to avoid being hit.
“If you walk with traffic on the right side of the road, you are three times more likely to be hit and killed than if you walk against traffic,” he said.
For drivers, Lambert said to keep a watchful eye and always wear a seatbelt because it has saved the lives of thousands of Louisiana drivers over the years.
“If you’re driving, just be careful and be alert because there are a lot more people walking and cycling than before,” he said.
While Louisiana is seeing an increase in traffic fatalities, the number of fatalities is consistent with national trends. Last year, the United States recorded the largest year-over-year increase ever reported in the national data system.
here are the Top 5 deadliest parishes in 2021:
East Baton Rouge Parish: 104
Orleans Parish: 69
Parish of Calcasieu: 56
Caddo Parish: 47
Jefferson Parish: 45
East Baton Rouge Parish Traffic Fatalities
Year 2022 to date: 54
Trends in state accidents, fatalities
There was a worrying increase last year — 32% — in cases of people driving while intoxicated/impaired, said Schneider, the state analyst.
Here are some other statewide trends for 2021 identified by Schneider:
- 174 interstate deaths, which is a staggering 49% increase from 2020.
- an all-time high of 185 pedestrian fatalities, an increase of nearly 27% from 2020.
- a 17% increase in collisions resulting in moderate or serious injury.
- a 4.9% increase in motorcycle fatalities, which were down in previous years.
- a 2.9% increase in cycling fatalities.
See complete totals by parish.