Louisiana highway deaths down

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State officials say highway deaths in Louisiana fell for the fourth consecutive time last year.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reported Thursday a total of 676 people died in traffic crashes in 2011, a drop of 44 from 2010 and a reduction of about one-third since 2007.

In addition, 72 people ages 18-24 died in crashes, a drop of 19 from the previous year and down from 134 who died in 2007.

The report said alcohol was a factor in 41 percent of the fatal crashes in 2011, down from 45 percent in 2007.

Authorities made 29,922 DWI arrests last year, up from 25,570 in 2007.

Officials also credited increased seat belt usage — 79 percent this year — for the improved traffic picture.