Within recent weeks, one person per week was killed while bike riding or walking along our roads in Louisiana. The most recent occurred on Christmas Eve. These were all articles in The Advocate, reporting on what seems to be a common problem.
The victims were all wearing dark clothing and were not seen, as reported by the drivers, and may have been on the wrong side of the road. Unfortunately, this rash of accidents coincides with the daylight saving time change, and shorter winter daylight that put most of the victims out early in the morning, or early evening at great risk.
Only one of the drivers was charged with a violation, meaning the victims probably wore clothing that was not visible to the driver. Living in Ascension Parish, I have seen mostly teenagers wearing dark clothing, walking with traffic, instead of facing it, on a road with no shoulder, streetlights or sidewalks.
That description fits all, or most of the two-lane roads in Ascension, Livingston and EBR parishes. We need an education program about the wearing of light-colored, highly visible or reflective clothing, or use of portable lighting while on or near these roads, which way to walk or bike ride on them, and what the rules are for vehicle drivers and the walkers.
To my knowledge, nowhere in Louisiana is this information taught or made available to schoolchildren, young adults, seniors or the general public. The victims I referenced fit all those categories. Other places where I’ve lived had some school programs (that I still remember), TV public service announcements, billboards and newspaper articles providing that information fairly often as reminders to the public about how to safely traverse roads. I don’t know if that is still being done or if it is now out of fashion.
I’m sure there are Louisiana statutes that cover the laws or rules of the highway, but I could not easily find them. When I did an Internet search of “how to walk on a public highway,” the first result was from the United Kingdom government (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-pedestrians-1-to-35).
Why not Louisiana? This would be a great way for police departments, jointly with school systems, to establish programs and interact with and inform our children how to be safe on our roads. It’s needed now and could save many lives.