Report: Speed caused 27 percent of La. traffic death in 2013

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BATON ROUGE — A new report finds speeding was a factor in at least 27 percent of Louisiana traffic fatalities in 2013.

The state had 703 traffic fatalities two years ago and 193 stemmed in part from speeding, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study using the latest available statistics shows.

More than 9,600 people nationally died from speeding-related crashes, down 7 percent from the previous year.

“Our highway fatality rates have declined significantly since 2007, but we are still losing precious lives here and throughout the country, and speed is a major factor,” John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said in a prepared statement received by The Advocate.

The state had 997 traffic fatalities in 2007, LeBlanc said.

Lack of seat belt usage is also a key factor in speeding-related fatalities.

Nationally, 49 percent of drivers were using seat belts in fatal crashes compared with 78 percent of drivers who were not speeding.

Comparable Louisiana figures were not immediately available.

In addition, drivers in the U.S. involved in fatal speeding crashes were alcohol-impaired more than twice as often as those not speeding, according to the report.

LeBlanc said young males — 15 to 24 — were most likely to be involved in the accidents.

“They are risk takers,” he said in an interview. “That is our hardest-to-reach demographic.”

In Louisiana, 16 of the fatalities where speeding was a factor took place on interstate highways, and five were on interstates in rural areas. LeBlanc said that is because, unlike city streets, T-bone and similar collisions do not typically happen on interstates.

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