Louisiana State Police are investigating the seventh traffic fatality of 2016 – and the second drowsy driving-related wreck – on a single stretch of State Highway 27 in the western part of the Bayou State.
Between Sulpher and DeQuincy, S.H. 27 is very windy in the south and there is an elbow curve in the north. It was in this curvy part not far from DeQuincy that 23-year-old Jasmine Phillips crossed from the northbound to the southbound side. “We suspect Ms. Phillips nodded off,” commented Sergeant James Anderson of LSP Troop D. She collided with a southbound truck driven by 23-year-old Cody Massie, of Singer. Ms. Phillips was declared dead at the scene; Mr. Massie was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries. In February 2016, 18-year-old Charlee Smith, of DeQuincy, crossed from the northbound to the southbound side at almost the exact same spot. She collided with 17-year-old Lauren LeBlanc, of DeQuincy. Both women were killed almost instantly, and authorities speculate that fatigued driving was the cause of that crash as well.
State officials dismissed the fatal drowsy driving crashes as mere coincidence, even though they happened in the same place and under similar circumstances. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Traffic Engineer Ben Boudreaux denied that there was a design or safety issue, insisting that “there is no obvious [engineering] problem there.”
In January, three people died in an alcohol-related crash on S.H. 27; in March, one person died after she failed to yield to a commercial truck.
According to the latest statistics, roughly 84 million people are dangerously fatigued when they are driving. The sheer magnitude of this issue has researchers re-thinking the best ways to combat drowsy driving. Some old tricks, like turning up the radio, are largely ineffective and may even make the problem worse. Caffeine is a good way to improve alertness, but it wears off quickly. A short fifteen or twenty-minute nap is probably a better measure. But the only proven way to avoid drowsy driving is to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before.
To address these situations, especially in areas prone to drowsy driving crashes, some road builders use vibration road marking paint on the center line and on the shoulders to alert sleepy or distracted drivers when they begin to drift out of their lanes. Governments have a duty to make roads and bridges safe, and it is not unheard of for personal injury lawsuits to spur action in this area.
Both individuals and governments should do their share to avoid drowsy driving crashes. For prompt assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney in Lake Charles in your negligence case, contact Hoffoss Devall today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.