Troopers running checkpoint Saturday night in Bossier

The fight against drunken and otherwise impaired driving already is underway well before New Year’s Eve

Troopers running checkpoint Saturday night in Bossier
If you plan to party on New Year's Eve, authorities say, make arrangements now to have a safe ride home. (Source: KSLA)

(KSLA) — If you plan to party on New Year’s Eve, you are urged to make arrangements now to have a safe ride home.

That’s the advice from not only law enforcement agencies from coast to coast, but also by someone who somehow survived a crash involving a drunken driver.

Next to Mardi Gras, people consume the most drinks on average during the New Year’s holiday, with an average of 43.5% of the population binge drinking,, according to SafeWise.
Next to Mardi Gras, people consume the most drinks on average during the New Year’s holiday, with an average of 43.5% of the population binge drinking,, according to SafeWise. (Source: SafeWise.com)

And new numbers show the problem in Louisiana is only getting worse.

The state has risen from 10th to ninth in the rankings of the most dangerous states for impaired driving, according to SafeWise, an online resource for home safety information.

Alcohol impairment is a factor in nearly a third of all traffic deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Breaking down those numbers further, alcohol-related deaths in vehicle crashes in the U.S. show an average of 29 such deaths per day, or one death every 50 minutes.

“Witness said we were travelling between 90 to 100 miles an hour,” James Cathey recalled.

The 39-year-old Bossier City resident cannot remember much about the deadly crash in 2006 that he somehow survived as a passenger in a back seat in a vehicle in Lafayette.

In fact, Cathey did not wake up for three months after the crash.

“At first I said, ‘God, how could you let this happen? God, why did you let, why’d you do this to me?’ God said, ‘No, I didn’t do this to you. You did this to you’.”

Cathey has since spent the past 12 years speaking to countless groups, large and small, through ThinkFirst, a national injury prevention foundation.

He said he serves as a reminder that no matter what you may think, no one is invincible.

It’s still days before New Year’s Eve, but Louisiana State Police already is taking action to combat impaired drivers, specifically with a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night.

The law requires law enforcement agencies that conduct such checkpoints to let the public know, in general terms, where they will be set up and when.

Louisiana state troopers will be somewhere in Bossier Parish from 10 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday.

Trooper Brent Hardy, spokesman for State Police Troop G, said there’s nothing random about where those checkpoints are held.

“We do try to pick strategic locations where we have had a problem," he said.

"Maybe crashes have happened with impaired drivers in the past or a heavy traffic volume that is still safe for us to put on a checkpoint.”

Between taxi cabs, ride-sharing services and the ability to call a friend or relative for help on your cellphone, there’s no reason for anyone to climb behind the wheel impaired and take such a huge gamble with their life and those of others, Hardy said.

“My main message, being a drug recognition expert, is if you feel different, you drive different.”

STATEWIDE NEWS RELEASE December 20, 2019 State Police Urge Safe Travel During this Christmas/New Year Season Citizens across Louisiana will be enjoying the holiday festivities very soon, 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 2020, celebrations across the state will increase traffic on our highways. 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 prevented. Throughout this upcoming 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. By understanding the following safety guidelines below, motorists can greatly reduce their chances of being involved in a serious injury or fatality crash. Designate a sober driver • Thousands of people are seriously injured or killed due to impaired driving each year. Never get behind the wheel impaired or get in a vehicle with a driver who is impaired. • Alcohol, prescription drugs, and other drugs have many effects on the body. They can impair visual ability, alter sense of time and space, impair fine motor skills needed to operate a motor vehicle, and decrease reaction times. • Designate a sober driver before traveling to any place. A designated driver is one who has had nothing alcoholic to drink and is also not under the influence of legal or illegal drugs. • Plan ahead. Call a taxi, ride-sharing service, or a trusted person for a ride or just stay at your location. Buckle-up • Louisiana law requires every person in a vehicle, regardless of seating position, to be properly restrained, day or night. • 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. Child passenger restraints • Louisiana law requires all children to be properly restrained. o To review the current law, in both English and Spanish, please visit: http://www.lahighwaysafety.org/Documents/CHILDPASSEnger/CPS%20Laws%20Eng%20Span.pdf. • If your travel plans take you out of our state, please visit www.saferide4kids.com for a list of current child passenger restraint laws by state. Every Louisiana State Police Troop is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a child safety seat “Inspection Station”. Please take advantage of these free services to ensure the safety of your child. Distractions • 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. • There are three primary types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. o Visual distractions are those that take your eyes off the road, such as checking your GPS or navigation system or searching for lost items on the floor of the vehicle. o Manual distractions are those that take your hands off the wheel, such as texting, eating, drinking, or locating items in a purse. o Cognitive distractions are those that take the driver’s focus away from driving, such as talking with passengers, singing songs, listening to podcasts, or dealing with emotional or work stress. Pedestrians or bicyclists • If you travel on foot or bicycle, wear bright clothing and remain aware of traffic on the roadway. Use proper lighting at night. Motorcyclists • Motorcyclists must 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. For the latest road condition information, including closures and construction, visit www.511la.org or dial 511 from any cellular phone in Louisiana. A Louisiana 511 phone app is also available for download. Motorists can sign up for Twitter traffic alerts from DOTD, as well as stay up to date with important information from the Louisiana State Police Facebook and Twitter pages. Motorists that witness hazardous road conditions and/or reckless drivers are encouraged to call *LSP (*577) and report that activity to the nearest Louisiana State Police Troop location. Contact Information: M/T Michael Reichardt Louisiana State Police Public Affairs Section Office: (318) 345-2810 michael.reichardt@la.gov

Posted by Louisiana State Police on Friday, December 20, 2019

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