Posted: Oct 8, 2012 11:24 AM
BATON ROUGE - The number of rear-seat passengers killed in Louisiana crashes fell to a 10-year low in 2011, according to preliminary data.
The reduced fatality figure is especially significant in that it came following the Louisiana Legislature's passage of a law in 2009 that broadened the state's seat-belt use requirement to include rear-seat passengers.
Preliminary crash data compiled by the LSU Highway Safety Research Group shows that 34 rear-seat passengers were killed in Louisiana crashes in 2011, significantly below the death rate experienced in most of the previous 10 years. For example, 60 rear-seat passengers died in crashes in 2002 and 52 died in 2008--the last full year before the new law was passed. Forty-four people were killed in 2009, the year the law was passed, and 52 died in 2010, the first full year in which the new law was in effect.
"Seat belts are proven lifesavers, but they don't do much good if they go unused by drivers and passengers," Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission said. "The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission encourages all vehicle occupants to always buckle up."
A 2011 survey of seat belt use in Louisiana found that 77.7 percent of motorists were buckled up. The national average seat belt use rate in 2010 was 85 percent. Louisiana has what is called a "primary enforcement" law, meaning that officers can stop and ticket people they observe violating the seat belt law.