Authorities have stepped up enforcement efforts to cut down on drinking and driving during Mardi Gras. The annual celebration, which attracts thousands of tourists to Louisiana each year, has a high holiday crash fatality rate. In an effort to reduce the number of collisions involving alcohol, authorities have obtained extra funding, allowing them to increase their visibility throughout the celebration and more easily arrest people for suspected drunk driving.
Reports indicate that Mardi Gras ranks among the most dangerous holiday periods for people on the roadway. In 2009, it topped the list as the deadliest holiday, with 22 people killed and more than 1,000 individuals hurt in auto collisions. Falling closely behind are Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
Authorities believe that since Mardi Gras is well known throughout the country for heavy partying, a significant number of those car accidents involved alcohol. In fact, they say that 68 percent of last year’s Mardi Gras deaths resulted from accidents involving alcohol, which ranks well above the annual state average of 48 percent of crashes involving alcohol.
The executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety warned drivers that enforcement agencies will be putting in overtime hours, closely monitoring the roadways and removing drunk drivers. The overtime allowance is being financed through grants provided by the Commission.
Over the past few years, the Louisiana legislature has passed numerous laws imposing steeper penalties for DWI convictions. Now, a DWI conviction can result in jail time, attorney fees, driving restrictions, increased insurance premiums and other consequences.
Source: 7KPLC.com, “Drunk drivers on Mardi Gras make it deadliest state holiday,” 28 Feb. 2011