Louisiana Department of Insurance
MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 11, Issue 1


Members
Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
Chris Broadwater
Paul Buffone
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Page Cortez
Manuel DePascual
Nick Gautreaux
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Senator Eric LaFleur
Ann Metrailer
Representative Nickie Monica
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Carrie Pena
Stephen Schrempp
Earl Taylor


Staff
Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

Katie Walsh, Administrative Assist./Research Analyst

If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter please send an email to the following address with "REMOVE" in the subject line.
kwalsh@ldi.la.gov

Buckling Up Pays Off in Louisiana

In 2009 the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) endorsed a change in the state’s existing safety belt law (R.S. 32:295.1) that would require rear seat passengers to wear their seatbelts. Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission (LPCIC) member LTC John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the LHSC convinced the LPCIC to include this proposal in its legislative recommendations. LPCIC member Representative Monica authored the bill that became Act 166 of the 2009 Regular Legislative Session. Since August 15, 2009 the law requires all private passenger vehicle occupants age 13 or older to have a safety belt properly fastened.

LHSC conducted a Louisiana Safety Restraint Use Observational Survey in June and July 2010 and recently released its findings.  This was the first statewide safety restraint observational survey to cover both front and rear seat passengers since they began in 1986.  Data was collected at 415 locations throughout the state; 62,058 vehicle occupants were observed during the survey.

Since the passage of the current law, requiring rear seat belt use, usage rate among rear seat occupants has increased by 31.2 percent. Seat belt usage among rear seat passengers age 13 and older is 58.4 percent.  The results of the survey also indicate that safety restraint usage among all private vehicle occupants in Louisiana (front and rear seat) is 75.5 percent.

Safety Restraint Usage Ranges by Region

Region 1 New Orleans 72.6% Region 5 Lake Charles 74.2%
Region 2 Baton Rouge 77.6% Region 6 Alexandria 71.8%
Region 3 Houma 76.8% Region 7 Shreveport 78.6%
Region 4 Lafayette 77.0% Region 8 Monroe 74.7%

Percent of Seat Belt Usage Among Front and Rear Seat Occupants in Louisiana, 2010, by Seat and Vehicle Type

 

AUTO

PICKUP

SUV

VAN

ALL

Front Seat

77.3%

69.7%

78.3%

82.0%

75.9%

Rear Seat

50.0%

47.8%

77.2%

90.7%

58.4%

Front & Rear

76.6%

69.4%

78.3%

82.2%

75.5%

Tougher Driving Laws for Teens Take Effect

Stricter restrictions for teenage drivers to move from a learner’s permit to a full driver’s license took effect on January 1st in accordance with Act 1039 of the 2010 Legislative Session.  The new law requires a minimum 50 hours of supervised driving time, 15 of which must be completed at night for a 16 year old to obtain a Class “E” intermediate license or for first time applicants age 17 or older to receive an unrestricted Class “E” drivers license. Under previous law, 17-year old drivers were able to get a driver’s license by passing a written and driving test, with no additional requirements.

Also included under the new law are driving curfew restrictions.  All intermediate licensed drivers under age 17 must still abide by an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. driving curfew, unless accompanied by a licensed adult (age 21 or older) or a sibling (at least 18 years of age).

There are also new restrictions on the number of vehicle occupants allowed in the car with drivers under the age of 17. The under 17 year old intermediate licensee is restricted to one under 21 year old non family member passenger after 6 p.m. unless similarly accompanied by a licensed adult or sibling.

The tougher driving restrictions are intended to improve safety for teenage drivers, who are at higher risk than other age groups.

State’s Highway Safety Improves, Traffic Fatalities Decline

Traffic data and crash statistics compiled by the Highway Safety Research Group (HSRG) at LSU show that Louisiana has been making many positive strides.   Based on preliminary data, traffic fatalities for 2010 are projected to be the lowest since the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission began collecting comprehensive data in 1992.

The number of traffic deaths per year in the state has declined by over 300 since 2007 (when it reached 993) in comparison to the 2010 estimate of about 687. In East Baton Rouge Parish, a drop of 22 fatalities between 2007 and 2010 was also recorded.

Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent for the Louisiana State Police, credits the decline in traffic deaths to several factors, including cooperation with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) and local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.   Col. Edmonson reports that over the past several years there has been an emphasis on proactive and increasingly visible law enforcement targeting areas with high crash fatalities.  Strategic planning and use of federal funding by LHSC for highway safety, heavy DWI enforcement, seat belt laws and campaigns for motorcycle safety and awareness are other factors that are partially responsible for the decline.  In fact, in 2010, there were 42 fewer motorcycle fatalities than in the previous year.

LPCIC Meeting Notice

The Homeowners Ad-Hoc Committee of the Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission will hold a committee meeting on Wednesday, February 9, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Plaza Hearing Room of the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Serving as chair is Manny DePascual, and vice chair is Sen. Dan Morrish.