The first phase starting November 22nd-30th, extra deputies will be out patrolling the roadways of Rapides Parish concentrating on these areas of enforcement. While seatbelt use is up state wide, in Rapides Parish it is still lower than other areas of the state. And this is especially true of night time drivers and male drivers. Lake Charles area had the highest seat belt use in the state with 89.9% and Alexandria coming in at 70.9% usage.
Deputies will also be concentrating on impaired drivers as well as distracted drivers with cell phones and texting. RPSO would like to remind everyone that the blood alcohol concentration for drivers over the age of 21 is .08; under 21 the limit is .02. Sometimes the mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol can increase the impaired effect a driver may experience behind the wheel and that should be avoided.
Distracted driving and texting and driving has become a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed nationwide in distracted driving crashes. In Louisiana, fatalities involving distracted drivers fell from 23 in 2013 to 15 so far in 2014 with two months left. RPSO would like to remind those driver’s under 17 years of age may not lawfully use ANY wireless communications device to send or receive a CALL or send or read a TEXT WHILE DRIVING.
Deputies will also be looking at child passenger safety enforcement. Children under the age of 6 years or less than 60 lbs. must be in a child restraint system or booster seat that is age and size appropriate, in accordance with manufacturers recommendations. Children 6 to 12 years of age must be restrained by a lap belt, shoulder harness, or an age / size appropriate child safety or booster seat. This year so far, Alexandria area shows a 79% usage of child safety restraints from under 1 year of age to just under 13 years of age.
“We want this Thanksgiving Holiday to be a safe and happy one for all of our families and all those travelling the roadways of Central Louisiana” said Sheriff Hilton. “Remember, drive defensively, leave a little earlier than usual, wear your seatbelt and put that phone down. The life you save may be your own or your loved ones.”