“One is too many, but we’re dealing with 57 so far in the Troop I area.”– Trooper First Class Thomas Gossen, Louisiana State Police
LAFAYETTE, LA — The number of deaths on the road is down from last year in Acadiana, but across the state from Thursday, Dec. 5, to Sunday, Dec. 8, eight people died from fatal crashes in Lousiana, and three were inside Iberia and St. Landry parishes.
Last weekend state troopers saw:
- six deadly crashes,
- two involved pedestrians,
- one involved a bicyclist,
- impairment is suspected in one,
- and half (47%) of those who died were not wearing a seatbelt.
“An accident is a deer running into a roadway, something uncontrollable. The crashes we’re having here are preventable,” Trooper First Class Thomas Gossen said.
Inside the eight parishes included under State Police Troop I, there have already been 55 fatal crashes resulting in 57 deaths.
According to Gossen half of the deaths might have been stopped by one simple decision, “Many of the fatalities we had were people that should have walked away from a crash or didn’t because of improper seatbelt use or no seatbelt use at all.”
The seatbelt is your first line of defense in a car. Where an airbag will only deploy for the first collision, it’s the seatbelt that keeps you from becoming a projectile.
“If you’re 100 lbs. and you’re going 50 miles and come to a dead stop you’re going to generate 5000 pounds of force,” Gossen added.
Over 18% of Acadiana’s 2019 fatal crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists, and statistically, distracted driving is accounted for 30 percent of fatal crashes, but Gossen said the sad reality is astronomically higher than that. He even spotted a distracted driver in the middle of his interview.
The first offense fine for using the phone while driving $500. When a phone is involved in a crash, the penalties are doubled.
“But the cost of that on the life side of this is much higher,” added Gossen. “Taking someone’s life because you wanted to answer a text, or send a message or check your Facebook post, it’s just not worth it.”
Gossen says it’s a scary time to be a driver or a cyclist because even if you do everything right, it can be someone else’s decision that puts you in danger, “Prepare for the crash, not just the journey. That’s what it’s about. You need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.”
In 2018, 65 people died in crashes in the Acadiana area. Of the 57 so far in 2019, three were bicyclists and seven were pedestrians.
If you see someone who you believe is a danger to themselves or others on the roadway, Trooper First Class Gossen said you have all the right to dial 911. There may be an officer ahead on the road who can stop them and prevent a loss of life.