- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says traffic fatalities dropped by 29 percent between 2007 and 2013.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, the commission’s executive director, said the state had 993 traffic fatalities in 2007, compared with 703 in 2013, a drop of almost 30 percent.

The decrease stems from tougher impaired driving and seat belt laws, more robust law enforcement and public information campaigns on the causes of traffic accidents, LeBlanc said.

Roadway fatalities fell 2.9 percent from 2012 to 2013, when 651 died.

Impaired driving and lack of seat belts were the chief culprits.

The figures were compiled for the 2013 Louisiana Traffic Records Data Report, which is done by the LSU Highway Safety Research Group.

The report said bicycle and pedestrian deaths also dropped between 2012 and 2013 - 46 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

The study said that, of the 489 drivers who died in 2013, 76 percent were men.

It also said that 42 percent of traffic fatalities in 2013 were alcohol-related and that 52 percent of roadway fatalities that year involved passengers who were not wearing seat belts.

Despite the positive news, LeBlanc and other state officials said more improvements are needed.

“While much of this data is encouraging, there is more to be done to continue to reduce the fatality numbers,” said Sherri LeBas, secretary of the state Department of Transportation and Development.

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