Authorities Initiate ‘Zero For December’ Campaign

This month, the Louisiana State Police will supplement the nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign with the annual Zero for December initiative, to hopefully eliminate fatal accidents in the coming weeks.

Officers plan to use a combination of sobriety checkpoints and aggressive saturation enforcement to combat impaired driving this holiday season. Although the Zero for December program has never reached that goal, Cassie Parker of the South Central Planning and Development Commission said the goal remained the same. “Every fatality involving a car crash is preventable, 100 percent,” she insisted, if vehicle occupants buckle up, drivers avoid alcohol, obey the speed limit, and focus on driving. “We all have a responsibility to do those things,” she added. The LSP has observed Zero for December every year since 2001.

Last year, 726 people died in Louisiana fatal accidents, and a third of those fatalities were alcohol related.

Car Crash Causes

Ms. Parker hit the nail on the head in discussing the causes of fatal accidents. Statistically, the drivers in Louisiana are the worst ones in the country, and the primary issues are:

  • Speed: Drivers can still be “speeding” for negligence purposes even if they are obeying the posted speed limit, because operators have a legal duty to reduce speed if there are adverse environmental conditions, like darkness or rain, or if they know their minds will not be 100 percent on driving because they are in an unfamiliar area.
  • Distraction: The shock statistic is basically true, because most cars do travel the length of a football field at freeway speeds while the drivers send or read text messages. Other forms of distracted driving are equally as dangerous.
  • Impairment: The proportion of alcohol-related fatal accidents is about the same nationwide as it is in Louisiana. Simply stated, alcohol is a depressant and it is never a good idea to operate heavy machinery while under the influence of such drugs.

Similarly, Ms. Parker was almost spot-on when she said that fatal accidents are 100 percent preventable, because according to researchers, human error is the primary factor, or the only factor, in about 95 percent of all car crashes. Almost all these errors, regardless of intent, breach the duty of reasonable care, making the tortfeasors (negligent drivers) liable for the victims’ economic damages, such as lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Seat belt use is not admissible in Louisiana to prove contributory negligence or reduce the victim’s damages. However, insurance companies often try to use other defenses, such as comparative fault and sudden emergency, because these companies do not want to pay any more compensation than is absolutely necessary.

Despite law enforcement efforts, fatal accidents are all too common in Louisiana. For a free consultation with T-Claude Devall or another experienced Lake Charles personal injury attorney, contact Hoffoss Devall. Home and hospital visits are available.