Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interview With a President

Perhaps as I write this, Ahmad Rashad is interviewing President Barack Obama as part of NBC's Super Bowl preview. I got to thinking how I might interview the new president. Being that he's a sports fan, I'd have to go with the traditional sports coach questions, and hope that he had a good sense of humor, which I think he does.

Me - OK, Mr. President. What a month! Inaugurated as President of the United States. Twice! Moved into the White House! Danced with your beautiful wife ten times in one night! Now a Super Bowl pregame interview with me. What's next? Are you going straight to Disneyland?

Obama - It's been quite a run for sure. Just living under the same roof as my family has been a big treat. The White House basketball court needs a lot of work, but isn't beyond hope. Have to decline that Disneyland trip. Sasha and Malia are just getting adjusted to their new school. Oh yeah, Michelle. Can you believe her and me? It's been fifteen years and I'm still a little stunned.

Me - I don't mean to dwell on the past, but I hope you'll comment on that amazing come-from-behind win over Senator Clinton in the Democratic Conference Final. I mean, she was preseason #1 in every poll. The pollsters could hardly spell your name to vote for you. How did you pull that off?

Obama - First let me say that Senator Clinton was a very tough opponent and can be proud of the fight she put up. We knew we were down bigtime, but we just kept playing. Indiana was big. I don't think many saw that coming. I was so impressed with Senator Clinton that I added her to my staff for next year.

Me - Will you be calling her at 3 a.m?

Obama - No comment. Can I call you at 3 a.m?

Me - And the General Election Bowl Sponsored by CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC and to a lesser extent C-SPAN, MSNBC and Comedy Central? That one seemed to go pretty well. When did you know you had it won?

Obama - When Aretha sang at the Inauguration. Oh, that was a little cold. Sorry, Aretha. You know I've got plenty of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for you. And that hat. Who saw that coming? No seriously, a lot of folks don't remember that we were tied after the two Convention Bowls. McCain brought in that rookie QB Palin. She really shook things up. Brought some new excitement to their side. But we stuck to our game plan. Really didn't make many adjustments, other than trying to dial down the celebrity meter a little. We just kept trying to execute. Things worked out. Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania - the big close ones all broke our way. Helps to be a little lucky.

Me - Did you think McCain was getting desperate when he brought Joe The Plumber in late in the game. I mean, he hadn't played a down all season. In fact, he hadn't played since high school.

Obama - I'm sure McCain just did what he thought was best for him at the time. I'm not going to second guess him after the fact. He's a great one and he put up a great fight.

Me - You mentioned execution. Talk about your team. An almost flawless effort. The Rev. Wright thing kept bouncing back at you. Somehow they minimized the damage.

Obama - I can't say enough about my team. Two essentially perfect game plans for a rookie in his first postseason. Wish I could send them all to Disneyland, but I need them here.

Me - And your fans. A lot of teams refer to their fans as their 12th man. In your case, the number goes up to about 60 million. Talk about them a bit.

Obama - Oh man. Now you might have to cut me off. Our fans - 60 million is probably a conservative figure. I did pretty well in some mock high school elections and even down to the lower grades. Sasha tells me it was a shutout in her second grade class in Chicago. They made phone calls, attended rallies, donated money, laundered uniforms, you name it. When we get this country back on its feet, we're gonna have a day for them at Disneyland. Count on it, friends.

Me - Let's look ahead to next season. The Problems of Our Nation and the World. Wow, are they tough!? Like the Ravens' 2000 defense and the 2007 Patriots offense with Tom Dempsey on the sideline ready to launch 60-yard field goals, coached by a cross between Don Shula, George Halas and God. And you've gotta play the entire schedule at once. How are you gonna handle that challenge? Can you get it done in one term?

Obama - Well I wish I could give you the pat answer and say we're gonna play 'em one game at a time, but we've got to attack on all fronts - the economy, energy, health care, our two wars, foreign policy, replacing the BCS bowls with a national playoff. My team is real busy. They get a four-hour break this afternoon to watch the game, but they have to back to work at halftime (after The Boss, of course) if the game is more than three touchdowns apart. Honestly, guys and gals, I'll make it up to you.

As for the one term question. We'll play as hard as we can for one term. If the good people of the United States see fit to give us a second in 2012, we'll keep working for them.

Me - You know I gotta ask this one. Who do you like today? Steelers or Diamondbacks, I mean Cardinals.

Obama - I ought to be neutral. President of all the people, you know. But dang it, swing state Pennsylvania brought me 25 electoral votes. Arizona went for my opponent. Gotta root for the Men of Steel.

Me - A score?

Obama - Steelers 23 Cardinals 15 - The Cards score late and convert a two-point play to get close, but the Steelers recover the onsides kick to wrap up the win.

Me - Wow that's my score! GMTA. Who's your MVP?

Obama - Now you're trying to pin me down. Troy Polamalu maybe. We Pacific Island guys gotta stick together. Wish I had some of his hair.

Me - Just one more. You're a big roundball fan. Who makes the NBA Finals this year? Can LeBron and the Cavs break up the Celtics and Lakers party?

Obama - The Lakes look tough. Did you hear that Andrew Bynum got hurt? That could slow them down, but probably not until the Finals. Celtics or Cavs? That's a toughie. I think the Celts experience is good for one more year, but look out for the Cavs in 2010.

Me - And if LeBron takes it all then, is he on your short list for second term Secretary of State, as a Nike campaign in production seems to indicate?

Obama - Now you're getting way ahead of things. (Quiets, pantomimes a long shot with LBJ's trademark follow through). (Whispering) Sweet!

The End

Monday, January 19, 2009

Future Baseball Hall of Famers Still Active in Baseball

January 19, 2009 Update - Congratulations to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice for their election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Henderson was elected on first try by a wide margin (almost 95% of the vote); Rice on his last by a whisker (76% vs. 75% required).

Here's an update on the prospects of various candidates for future induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sure things if they stopped playing today

Ken Griffey, Jr. - Junior hasn't announced his retirement, but by the same token he doesn't have a job for the 2009 season. I'll leave him on this list. He's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Randy Johnson - The Big Unit will be pitching for his 300th career win sometime this season with the Giants. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer whether or not he gets it, though 300 wins could propel him toward unanimous selection.

Tom Glavine - Missed most of 2008 season with injuries; trying to get healthy and find a job in 2009. In any event, with 300+ career wins, Glavine's a first-ballot lock whenever he's eligible - no later than 2015 as it's likely he'll pitch no more than one more year.

John Smoltz - Missed most of 2008 season with injuries, but has a job with the Red Sox in 2009. Needs to get healthy. If he gets healthy and does well, he could play beyond 2009. Effective retirement after 2008 is also a possibility if he doesn't recover. With 200+ wins and 150+ saves and a sterling postseason record, Smoltz will get into the Hall of Fame the first time he's eligible.

Trevor Hoffman - The all-time saves leader will be saving games for a new club in 2009, the Milwaukee Brewers. Pitching just 40-50 innings per year, Hoffman could go on for awhile. In any event, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer whenever he retires.

Mariano Riviera - At age 38, this amazing pitcher had one of his greatest seasons - 1.40 ERA, 39 saves, 0.665 WHIP, 6 (yes six) BB and 77 Ks in 71 IP. His 482 saves are second all-time to Hoffman's 554 (516 to 558 if postseason is included). Arguably the greatest reliever of all time, Rivera is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer and could top 95% of the vote.

Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod continues his inexorable march up the all-time leader ranks. At age 33, he's 12th all-time in HRs (553), 30th in RBIs, 42nd in runs, figures that would put him in the Hall of Fame if he retired tomorrow even without a World Series ring, which the Yankees' acquisition of CC Sabathia and Mark Teixiera makes more likely. Unanimous election in 15-20 years is likely if A-Rod beats Bonds' career HR record.

Derek Jeter - Jeter's got the stats (2,500 hits) and World Series rings (4) to get into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot if he retired tomorrow, which he won't. Some day in the 2020s, "Mr. Baseball" Jeter will be a first-ballot, and perhaps unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame.

Ivan Rodriguez - Pudge is still looking for a job for 2009. He'll find one if he's willing to work cheap. Otherwise, he'll enter the Hall of Fame in 2014 with one of the best offensive and defensive resumes in catching history.

Manny Ramirez - Manny doesn't have a job for 2009 either, but it's unlikely he won't get one. With 527 regular season HRs and 28 more in the postseason, Ramirez will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer whenever he's eligible, though unlikely to gain unanimous support because of concern about "Manny being Manny."

Pedro Martinez - After struggling with injuries the last two years, Martinez's career may come to an end. Even with seven seasons in the top four of Cy Young voting (three wins), Martinez may not gain first ballot election given that he only has 214 career wins, but he'll make it eventually on the strength of a .684 career winning percentage and 2.91 ERA.

Jim Thome - Thome finished the 2008 season with 541 career HRs, 14th all-time. His 966 OPS is 18th all-time. Now a full-time DH, Thome probably has a couple more seasons left, making him eligible for the Hall in about 2016, at which time his 600 career HRs should make him a first-ballot inductee.

Chipper Jones - A fabulous 2008 season (.364 batting average) pushes Jones into the "sure thing" category. Playing most of his career at 3B, Chipper has racked up 408 HRs and a 956 OPS. He won an MVP and played for many good teams, including one World Series winner in Atlanta. He might not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer if he retired today, but he'd get in soon. When he does retire, Jones will have the full resume of a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Would be sure thing except for steroid issue

Sammy Sosa - Sosa wants to play, but didn't in 2008 and probably won't in 2009. I'll keep him on the "active" list until next year.

Would be sure thing except for DH issue

Frank Thomas - "The Big Hurt" is the right-handed version of Jim Thome, with a few more DH games and a higher batting average. After a disappointing 2008, Thomas will likely retire when he can't find a job for 2009. I think Thomas will get in, though probably not on the first ballot.

Don't need much more, if anything

Jeff Kent - 2008 was likely Kent's last season. He'll finish with 377 HRs, 1500+ RBIs and an 856 OPS - great offensive figures for a second baseman. He'll probably make the Hall of Fame some day, but not on the first ballot.

Vladimir Guerrero - Vlad finished the season with 392 career HRs, 2100+ hits, 1268 RBIs and a .323 batting average - well on the way to the Hall of Fame, but probably a couple decent seasons from being a sure thing.

Curt Schilling - Schilling couldn't come back from injury in 2008. I expect that his career is over. With just 216 career wins, Curt isn't a lock for the Hall, though his 10-2, 2.23 ERA record in postseason starts won't hurt. I predict he'll get in, although probably not on the first ballot.

Gary Sheffield - After his worst offensive season since 1991 (and this as a DH), Sheffield will probably finish his career with 499 HRs, one short of the magic mark. He won't get a lot of points for being a nice guy either. My guess is that Sheffield will spend a long time on the Hall of Fame ballot, and like Jim Rice, finally get in.

Great careers, but need more milestones

Todd Helton - Helton had a rough 2008 that puts his Hall of Fame candidacy at risk. His batting average (.328) and OPS (1002) are terrific (though perhaps inflated by Coors Field), but his career totals (1900 hits, 310 HRs, 1100 RBIs) are a little thin for a 1B candidate. Helton needs to rebound or he'll fall into the "promising, but falling off" category.

Carlos Delgado - A great 2008 (particularly the second half) propels Delgado into the Hall of Fame discussion. He's hit 469 career HRs and has a 929 career OPS. Another good season would push Delgado over 500 HRs and make him a very viable candidate, though not a likely first-ballot inductee.

Once promising, but have fallen off lately

Nomar Garciaparra - Once on a clear HoF trajectory, Nomar is now hanging on to his career at just age 34. His current career stats make him a marginal HoF candidate, supported mostly by a .314 BA and 888 OPS for a shortstop. Like Don Mattingly, Nomar will probably stay on the ballot a long time, with his hopes eventually landing with the Veterans' Committee.

Andruw Jones - Andruw probably killed his HoF chances with a hideous 2008 season (.158 BA, 76 Ks in 209 AB). His career may even be over. Ten Gold Gloves and 377 HRs might get Jones past the 5% hurdle, but he won't ever be a Hall of Famer.

Scott Rolen - 2008 didn't revive Rolen's Hall of Fame prospects. Physical problems will end his career soon. At this point, he wouldn't survive the 5% threshold.

Jorge Posada - An injury-plagued 2008 reversed whatever momentum Posada generated after a great 2007.

Long careers but still not sure by any means

Omar Vizquel - Vizquel's career is probably over after a very weak season with the Giants at age 41. Eventually, even eleven Gold Gloves and 2600+ career hits will leave Omar on the outside looking in.

David Wells - Boomer's 239-157 career record will be considered by voters in 2013 and may propel him over the 5% threshold. His 4.14 career ERA will keep him out of the Hall for a long time - maybe forever.

Mike Mussina - Probably has the best shot to make it of the players on this list. He retired after the 2008 season with 270 career wins and .638 winning percentage. A 3.68 career ERA will hurt his chances, but I think he'll make it someday, though certainly not on the first ballot.

Miguel Tejada - Miguel has piled up some great offensive numbers for a SS (272 HR, 1900 hits), but has been touched by the steroid issue. He did not have a great 2008 and may be on a downslope at age 34.

Jason Giambi - Giambi had a nice comeback season in 2008 and has a job with the A's for 2009. He has 396 career HRs, but being a 1B/DH and being involved in the steroid issue, he'll have to get to 500 HRs to have any chance at the HoF.

Andy Pettitte - Andy's steady 14-year career may be nearing its end. Supporting his HoF candidacy - .629 winning percentage and 14 postseason wins. Working against him - just 215 career wins at a 3.89 ERA. His career resembles that of David Cone, who missed the 5% threshold this year.

Jose Mesa - Retired after 2007. 4.38 ERA - no chance.

Billy Wagner - Career in jeopardy after injury that will keep him out for 2009. Fabulous numbers thru 2008 - 385 saves, 2.40 ERA, 1.009 WHIP, 1066 Ks in 818 IP. That last figure might keep Wagner out - just 818 IP. Once he gets on the ballot, he'll stay there. I don't know if he'll make it. Bruce Sutter might the best comp - he made it after a long stay on the ballot.

Bobby Abreu - A good, steady player, but rarely a great one, Bobby has a lot of work to do to become a clear HoF candidate.

Luis Gonzalez - Gonzo was great in 2001, just good in his many other seasons. His best stat is doubles where is total of 596 is 15th all-time. He probably stays on the ballot, but ends up with the Veterans Committee and never getting in.

Edgar Renteria - Now an everyday SS for 13 years, Renteria has 2,070 career hits, but still doesn't feel like a HoFer (just five All-Stars, three Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves).

Johnny Damon - After 14 years, Damon has 2,270 hits and a .289 BA. Unless he can somehow hang on and reach 3,000 hits (at least five years work), Damon won't make the Hall.

Playing at H of F level but early in career - special category

Albert Pujols - Have played just eight seasons, Pujols wouldn't even make the ballot if his career ended early, but two more seasons even remotely like the previous eight will put the best right-handed hitter of the 21st century on a clear HoF track.

Ichiro Suzuki - The AL's version of Pujols (albeit a singles-hitting, rather than power-hitting machine), Ichiro probably needs more than two more good seasons to eventually make the HofF (though 2,200 hits and a .330 average might get the job done). At age 34, Ichiro should have four or so more seasons to put his candidacy on strong footing.

Decent foundations, but need many more good years

Troy Glaus - A 3B with excellent power numbers (300+ HR, almost 900 RBI), but weak in other areas (.256 BA, 1271 hits). He needs to play several more productive years to become a serious candidate.

Lance Berkman - In nine solid seasons, Berkman has amassed 1449 hits, 288 HRs and a 973 OPS. Another five good seasons will make Lance a viable candidate.

Carlos Beltran - In 10 seasons he's hit 250+ HRs and stolen 250+ bases, scored and driven in about 1000 runs, while establishing himself as a Gold Glove CF. Five more good years and a World Series ring would make Carlos a strong candidate.

David Ortiz - After five straight top five MVP seasons, Ortiz fell off badly in 2008. His career figures aren't that imposing. He probably doesn't have enough good seasons left to amass a HoF resume.

Johan Santana - 109 wins, .689 winning percentage, 1.102 WHIP at age 29. He'll need six great seasons to line up with Pedro Martinez and even more to become a sure Hall of Famer.

Roy Halladay - 131 wins, .665 winning percentage at age 31. Roy needs at least five more big seasons to get in the HoF discussion.

More interesting names and careers

Miguel Cabrera
Jimmy Rollins
Jose Reyes
David Wright
Joe Mauer
Chase Utley
Ryan Howard
Alfonso Soriano

Amaris Ramirez
Justin Morneau
Magglio Ordonez
Roy Oswalt
Carlos Zambrano
Francisco Rodriguez

Retired, ineligible and electable

Roger Clemens - assuming he stays retired, a candidate for 2013 induction. A lot could happen between now and then with The Rocket's various legal battles. Once a possible unanimous inductee, Clemens could end up in a McGwire-like limbo.

Greg Maddux - with 355 career wins and a scandal-free career, now-retired Maddux is sure thing for induction in 2014 and a strong candidate for unanimous support, though it's likely that some stickler will prevent this.

Craig Biggio - retired after 2007 season with 3,000+ career hits - eligible for induction in 2013. A likely first-ballot selection with no chance of being a unanimous selection.

Barry Bonds - wanted to play in 2008, but by all accounts should be considered retired after 2007. Despite an amazing career, the steroids issue leaves Bonds' election in 2013 in doubt.

Mike Piazza - likely first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2013 as the best hitting catcher of all time.

Roberto Alomar - eligible in 2010 - great career through age 33; retired by age 36 - still amassed 2700 hits, 1500 runs and 400 SBs. Not first ballot, but soon.

Rafael Palmeiro - eligible in 2011 (probably not electable given steroid revelations - otherwise an almost sure thing with 569 HR and 3,020 hits)

Jeff Bagwell - eligible in 2011 - career cut short by injury - still 449 HRs and 948 OPS with half of career home games played in Astrodome). Not first ballot, but eventually.

Larry Walker (will be hurt by Coors Field factor) - eligible in 2011. "Only" 2160 hits, but 965 OPS, good all-around player. Will spend a long time on the ballot.

Bernie Williams - eligible in 2012 - decent stats (.297 BA, 858 OPS, 2300 hits, 288 HRs) for a CF; great postseason hitter (22 HRs) with four WS rings. Stays on ballot, election unsure.

Edgar Martinez - eligible in 2010 - great hitter at peak of career; career totals (2247 hits, 309 HRs) would seem to fall short, especially for a DH. Will stay on ballot but eventually go to Veterans' Committee.

Fred McGriff - eligible in 2010 - just seven short of magic 500 HRs. Election possible but not assured.

Retired, eligible, electable and not in

Mark McGwire
Lee Smith
Bert Blyleven

Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Andre Dawson
Dave Parker
Tim Raines

September 20 Update - I've made two changes. First, Jim Thome, hitter of 540 career home runs, moves from "needs more milestones" to "sure thing" as he continues to contribute (33 HRs 87 RBI) as DH of the NL Central-leading White Sox.

Also Jim Kaat moves off the list. He's in the hands of the Veterans' Committee now, along with Ron Santo, Vada Pinson and several other players who came close but never met the 75% threshold.

I'll consider other changes at the end of the regular season. Getting no help from 2008 season were Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra, Scott Rolen and Dontrelle Willis. Veterans helping their prospects were Mike Mussina, Carlos Delgado, Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman. New to the watch list should be Miguel Cabrera and Troy Glaus.

January 18, 2008 Update - I added some notes at the bottom based on the recent Hall of Fame election for 2008 in which Rich "Goose" Gossage was elected. Congratulations to a very deserving inductee who dominated hitters as both a starter and workhorse reliever over his long career with nine different major league teams. (photo from

July 2007 - Here's a list to chew on - potential future baseball Hall of Famers that are still active. Let me know your thoughts. Who's miscategorized? Who did I miss? Who shouldn't be there at all? Why?

My source is They track Bill James' Hall of Fame Monitor stat, which awards points for various season and career accomplishments.

Sure things if they stopped playing today (in order of "sure-thingedness")
Roger Clemens (#2 All-time pitcher in James' Hall of Fame Monitor stat) - moving down "sure-thingedness" list based on Mitchell Report allegations.
Greg Maddux
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Randy Johnson (#4 on same list)
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds (would be higher except for steroid issue - #9 all-time position player)
Tom Glavine
John Smoltz
Trevor Hoffman

My first list ended here. After doing some research, I added these names (moving them up from the "don't need much more" group)

Mariano Riviera
Alex Rodriguez
Derek Jeter
Ivan Rodriguez
Manny Ramirez
Pedro Martinez (bad omission from my first list--forgot about him as an active player.)

Jim Thome (added 9/20/08)

Would be sure thing except for steroid issue
Sammy Sosa

Would be sure thing except for DH issue
Frank Thomas

Don't need much more, if anything:
Jeff Kent - not as strong a candidate as I thought, but I'm leaving him here as he's the all-time HR leader among 2B.
Vladimir Guerrero
Curt Schilling - great post-season record helps.

Great careers, but need more milestones
Gary Sheffield
Chipper Jones
Jim Thome - moved to "sure thing" 9/20/08
Todd Helton - moved up from promising but falling off

Once promising, but have fallen off lately
Nomar Garciaparra
Andruw Jones
Scott Rolen - not as good as I thought; would need a career rejuvenation to get there.

Long careers but still not sure by any means
Omar Vizquel
David Wells
Carlos Delgado
Jorge Posada - probably too far away statwise, but does have four rings and is hitting better than ever

Adding to this group

Mike Mussina
Miguel Tejada
Jason Giambi (probably not after steroid revelations)
Andy Pettitte
Jose Mesa (seems unlikely; Lee Smith needs to get in first)
Billy Wagner
Bobby Abreu

Luis Gonzalez

Playing at H of F level but early in career
Albert Pujols
Ichiro Suzuki

The above two need their own category. They've amassed HoF-worthy points in seven years. But they wouldn't make it they had a career ending injury tomorrow. Probably should move up to "more milestones" category.

Still too early to tell

Carlos Beltran
David Ortiz
Lance Berkman
Johan Santana
Roy Halladay
Jimmy Rollins
Jose Reyes
David Wright

I thought of some more names for this group

Joe Mauer
Chase Utley
Ryan Howard
Aramis Ramirez
Alfonso Soriano
Justin Morneau
Magglio Ordonez
Edgar Renteria
Johnny Damon
Roy Oswalt
Dontrelle Willis
Carlos Zambrano
Francisco Rodriguez

Two more categories

Retired, ineligible and electable

Roberto Alomar
Rickey Henderson - eligible in 2009.
Rafael Palmeiro (probably not electable given steroid revelations)
Jeff Bagwell
Larry Walker (will be hurt by Coors Field factor)
Bernie Williams
Edgar Martinez

Retired, eligible, electable and not in

Jim Rice - 71% of vote in 2008; 2009 is last year of eligibility for induction by writers.

Mark McGwire
Lee Smith
Goose Gossage - elected for induction in 2008.
Jim Kaat - 9/20/08 - now under Veterans' Committee consideration

Bert Blyleven
Dale Murphy
Andre Dawson
Dave Parker
Tim Raines - new to the ballot in 2008. Only player new to ballot to make 5% cut.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Holidays Costly on Louisiana's Highways

January 8 Update - Highlights

2008/9 Holiday Period Costly on Louisiana's Highways - 22 Die in 12 Days

Statewide Traffic Fatality Rates Down In 2008 From 2007

South Bayou Roads Remain Most Deadly in Louisiana

Lack of Seat Belt Use And Alcohol-Impaired Driving Are Persistent Problems

Improving Own Driving Habits Is Best Way To Stay Alive

Twenty-two traffic fatalities resulting from twenty accidents during the recent 12-day Christmas and New Years holiday period saddened the season for many Louisianans. These figures are compiled from news releases of the Louisiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies around the state, and may not reflect all traffic fatalities that actually occurred in the state during this time.

Christmas weekend was particularly gruesome as eleven people died in ten wrecks in four days between December 24 and December 27, with a single wreck on I-10 near LaPlace on Christmas Day killing three people, including two small children.

During the New Year's holiday between December 31 and January 4, nine people were killed in eight wrecks. Two deaths occurred in the early hours of January 1.

For the year 2008, 547 traffic-related deaths were reported on Louisiana's highways. The comparable total for 2007 was 613. The 2008 total represents a 11% decrease from 2007. By Louisiana State Police Troop Areas, the totals are - Troop A (Baton Rouge Metro) 90; Troop B (New Orleans Metro) 40; Troop C (South Bayou) 62; Troop D (SW Louisiana) 29; Troop E (Central LA) 73; Troop F (NE Louisiana)52; Troop G (NW Louisiana) 50; Troop I (Acadiana) 78; Troop L (North Shore) 73. Traffic deaths reported by Baton Rouge PD, East Baton Rouge SO, Livingston Parish SO, Zachary PD, New Orleans PD (incomplete reporting), Jefferson Parish SO, Lafourche SO, Bossier City PD, Shreveport PD, Lafayette PD and Slidell PD totaling 40 are included in these figures. Reports from Alexandria, Lake Charles and Monroe law enforcement, and various small town law enforcement agencies throughout the state remain inaccessible on the Internet, so these totals necessarily are not all-inclusive of all traffic fatalities that occurred in Louisiana during 2008.

The South Bayou area, including Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, remains the most dangerous area of the state in terms of traffic fatality rates. The area reported 62 traffic deaths in 2008, up 11% in a year when fatalities reported around the state went down. Fatality rates based on both highway miles and population are more than twice the statewide averages. Similarly, the North Shore area had a bad 2008, with 73 traffic deaths, up 13% from the total reported in 2007, and above statewide average rates. Traffic fatalities declined in the metro Baton Rouge area, but remain above statewide average rates based on both highway miles and population. Significant declines were seen in SW Louisiana, Acadiana and the New Orleans Metro area, although the latter may be due to missing reporting by the New Orleans Police Department for most of 2008.

More complete reporting resulted in Northwest Louisiana's reported traffic deaths increasing by more than 250% to 50 in 2008. This increase implies that there were many traffic deaths in this area of the state that were not included in the 2007 figures, making the actual statewide decrease from year to year even greater.

May and June were the most costly months, with 55 and 68 traffic deaths reported, respectively. The fewest traffic deaths were reported in July and August, 29 in each month.

As has been highlighted many times in LSP news releases, lack of seat belt use and alcohol/narcotics-impairment are critical factors in fatal accidents. Out of 436 fatal accidents, 161 (37%) involved lack of seat belt use and 93 (21%) involved alcohol or drug use. Motorcyclists, ATV riders and bicyclists remain at high risk. 44 fatal accidents involved one of these kinds of vehicles. Pedestrians are no match for motorized vehicles. 40 fatal accidents killed at least one pedestrian. Large tractor trailers add danger to the road because of both their large size and their high fates of speed and long braking distances. 38 fatal accidents in Louisiana during 2008 involved an 18-wheeler. Driving habits also play a significant role. Speed was cited as a contributing factor in at least 22 fatal accidents. I suspect that the actual total is much higher, as so many 1-car accidents involve the vehicle "leaving the road for unknown reasons". Drivers often want to blame "the other guy" for bad driving, but more than half (58%) of reported fatal accidents involved just one vehicle. Improving one's own driving habits is the best way to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a fatal accident - wearing seat belts, driving unimpaired, slowing down, keeping safe following distance, watching out for pedestrians, obeying traffic signals, etc.

November 18 - Sorry for the long interruption between posts. The traffic death story on Louisiana's highways has not improved. In fact, November is shaping up to be the most deadly month since June.

Traffic deaths reported by the Louisiana State Police and various other law enforcement agencies around the state totalled 40 in both September and October, an increase of about 50% from the rate seen in July and August. The North Shore area was particularly dangerous in these two months, with 21 traffic fatalities reported. This area now ranks third in the state for traffic fatalities both by population and by mileage (it was fourth in both categories in 2007). Overall, the south Bayou area (Houma and Thibodaux and surroundings) remains the most dangerous in the state by both benchmarks.

In November, the Baton Rouge metro area and central Louisiana (Alexandria and surrounding parishes) have reported seven traffic deaths each. I'm particularly concerned about November in that 31 traffic fatalities have already been recorded in 17 days. This would project to 55 for the month without considering the extra traffic that can be expected over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Non-use of seat belts, alcohol-impaired driving, motorcyclists and pedestrians continue to stand out as key factors in traffic fatalities. If all drivers would drive only while sober, wear their seat belts, and watch closely for motorcyclists and pedestrians, many fatalities could be avoided. Motorcyclists could help their chances of surviving an accident by wearing a DOT-approved helmet.

September 11 - July and August's reported traffic deaths in Louisiana were at less than half the pace demonstrated in May and June. In July 28 people died in 26 accidents; in August 26 people died in 24 accidents. So far through 10 days of September, five people have died in five accidents. Perhaps Hurricane Gustav kept some people off the roads and made other stop at non-functioning traffic signals.

All fatal traffic accidents are tragically sad, but perhaps the saddest in August resulted in the death of Lafourche Parish sheriff's deputy Martha Woods Shareef, who was run over in a parking lot while responding to a reported burglary.

Troop A responded to the most costly accident in July when an out-of-control dump truck caused a wreck on I-12 in East Baton Rouge Parish that killed three innocent people, a father, mother and 7-year-old daughter. Another child, the family's four-year-old daughter, was critically injured as well as orphaned in the crash.

July 27 - Amazingly and depressingly, June was an even more deadly month on Louisiana's highways than was May. At least 68 people died in 59 fatal accidents.

This despite the Troop C area (southern Bayou) reducing its traffic death toll from 16 in May to 2 in June. The rest of the state more than made up the difference, with 15 deaths in Troop E's area (Alexandria area); 14 in Troop I's (Lafayette); 13 in Troop A's (Baton Rouge area - though most of these occurred in the rural parishes); 9 in Troop L's (Northshore); and 7 in Troop F (Monroe area). Troop G's area (Shreveport) recorded its first two traffic fatalities of the year in June.

Through 26 days, July looks considerably better with 18 fatalities resulting from 18 accidents. Speculation in Florida, where I've been for the last week, is that high gas prices are keeping people off the roads. I'm hoping that Louisiana's law enforcement officers and drivers responded to the record carnage of June with more patrols and safer driving in July.

June 3 - At least 53 people died on Louisiana's highways during May, by far the deadliest month so far in 2008. The total surpasses the previously monthly high of 38 set in March. A total of 43 accidents claimed the lives, of which eight resulted in multiple fatalities.

As noted previously, Louisiana State Police Troop C's jurisdiction, which includes Lafourche, Terrebonne and part of St. John Parish has been the most dangerous area of the state. Ten accidents there in May killed 16 people, including three juveniles. This death toll exceeded by 33% the previous record for an area in a month (Troop A with 12 in February). It also exceeded the death toll in the historically dangerous Troop C area for the rest of 2008.

If a serial killer were taking people out at such a pace in this predominantly rural area, the entire consciousness of the populace would be occupied in stopping the carnage.

May 14 - Killing or saddening mothers across the state, Mother's Day weekend resulted in 15 traffic fatalities on Louisiana's highways in ten separate accidents. Three other fatal accidents, each claiming a life, happened on Thursday, May 8.

The deathtrap under LSP Troop C's jurisdiction in south Louisiana (Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes) snuffed out nine lives in six accidents over the weekend. Friday afternoon, a two-car wreck claimed the life of an 18-year-old woman. On Saturday, a collision between two motorcycles, driven by a man and his wife, killed the woman. Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor, and both riders were wearing novelty helmets rather than DOT-approved helmets. A second accident on Saturday, this one a head-on crash on treacherous LA 308 (site of four fatal accidents in Lafourche Parish in the last three weeks), killed a 32-year-old woman and two of her three children, ages 10 and 8. A 13-year-old daughter survived to face the horror of losing almost her entire family. The children were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. A Sunday one-car crash in Terrebone Parish killed a 23-year-old driver, who was also not wearing a seat belt. A head-on crash on LA 1 involving a diesel truck resulted in a fire that killed two men. A 22-year-old passenger was killed in one last wreck, this one on LA 57 near Ashland.

The Troop C area continues as the most dangerous section of the state. Per number of highway miles, the bayou area's fatality rate is more than three times the state average and more than 45 times the rate for safest area, that of Troop G in northwest Louisiana. Per population, the Troop C area's fatality rate is more than double the state average and more than 20 times that of Troop G.

In just the first 11 days of May, 22 people have been killed in 15 fatal accidents. As the desk sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there!"

April 23 - It's been another couple of rough weeks for traffic fatalities on Louisiana's highways. Since April 7, fourteen people have been killed in fourteen incidents ranging from cars going off the road and flipping to a 30-year-old male rescue firefighter being killed while responding to a previous wreck. Another 19-year-old female victim survived a wreck only to be killed when her disabled vehicle was struck and knocked into her. If you are involved in a wreck please be extra careful while outside your vehicle at the accident scene. This may be hard to do in the trauma of the original accident, but could save your life as many drivers are travelling too fast to react to a unforeseen roadside situation.

April 8 Update - The last three weeks have been anything but quiet on Louisiana's highway. The wail you may have heard on Sunday came from nearby Prairieville, home of two teenage boys killed in an accident just after midnight on the I-10 service road at Picardy Ave in Baton Rouge. Their vehicle, a Mazda 626 entering the service road from Picardy toward I-10 South and home, was rear-ended by a speeding pickup driven by a 56-year old Georgia resident. The blood alcohol level of the pickup's driver was later measured at 0.128, well above Louisiana limit of 0.08 for DWI. Two boys, 13- and 15-year-old best friends, were taken with serious injuries from the crash site to a local hospital where they were later pronounced dead. Here's a link to the Baton Rouge Advocate's news story on the wreck and the victims. Perhaps now some attention will be paid to this dangerous stretch of road, which I've been concerned about since last year.

Overall, April 6 was an ugly day on Louisiana's highways, as four people were killed in three wrecks. April's gotten off to a bad start with nine fatalities in seven days. For the year, I've counted 101 accidents causing 114 deaths. As hideous as all this sounds, with every fatality being a mind-numbing tragedy for family members and other loved ones of the victim, the pace of Louisiana traffic fatalities as reported by LSP and other large jurisdictions (BRPD, NOPD in particular) is down significantly from 2007. At the current pace, fewer than 450 people will die on Louisiana's highways under these jurisdicitions, compared to more than 600 in 2007. I hope the difference of more than 25% is due to safer driving rather than to spottier reporting.

March 17 Update - New Orleans and the surrounding area accounted for all the traffic fatalities in an otherwise blessedly quiet week. Between March 8 and 15, NOPD investigated three fatal accidents that each killed one person. On March 16, Troop B responded to a three-car wreck on I-10 near LaPlace that killed an 8-year-old girl and injured ten other people. In the rest of the state, no fatal accidents have been reported since March 8. The five-stay stretch between March 10 and 14 was the longest without a fatal accident statewide since I started following this subject last year.

March 6 Update - TFC Dardar of Troop C reports that they investigated 52 fatal accidents that resulted in 65 deaths in 2007. This is nine more than I counted based on Troop C news releases. The extra nine fatalities brings my state total for 2007 to 659.

2008 continues to be a very tough year in the Troop A's area--metro Baton Rouge. State Police have investigated accidents that have killed 21 people. Baton Rouge and Livingston Police Departments add three more for an overall total of 24.

Statewide, the Troop C area (Southeast Bayou - Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption Parishes and parts of St. James and St. John Parishes) has suffered 10 traffic fatalities thus far in 2008, maintaining its unenviable position as the most dangerous area of the state, on both deaths per highway mile and deaths per population basis. The Troop C area's rate of 0.43 fatalities /100 miles is more than three times the state average of 0.14. On a population basis, the Troop C area's rate of 0.38 fatalities per 10,000 population is twice as high as the state average. Close behind in both categories is metro-Baton Rouge (Troop A's jurisdiction) at 2.8 times the state average on a highway mile basis and 1.65 times the state average on a population basis. Troop F's area has logged 11 fatalities so far in 2008. Statewide, 82 people have been killed in 2008 traffic accidents, seemingly horrific, but a rate that would project to less than 500 for the whole year, at least 150 fewer than I counted for 2007. I can't say for sure if the decrease is due to better driving or holes in my recordkeeping--I pray the former.

February 24 Update - LSP reported seven traffic deaths on a hideous Friday, February 22. Five happened in Troop A's jurisdiction--three in one St. James Parish head-on collision. Just two hours earlier in Ascension Parish, a one-car accident killed a 51-year-old man. Another St. James crash resulted in the fifth fatality . Troop D responded to two separate single-car accidents in Beauregard Parish, each of which killed a 40-something male driver.

Traffic fatalities within the Troop A area (Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes) now total a depressing 20 for 2008, far more than any other area of Louisiana and 20% higher than 2007's deadly pace for the area. This despite increased patrolling along I-10 and and I-12 that has helped hold the death toll on these major thoroughfares in the Baton Rouge area to one. Fifteen of the 20 fatalities have occurred in the parishes surrounding Baton Rouge.

On a positive note, both Troop B and Troop G have yet to report their first fatality, though NOPD has responded to two inside the city. This trend continues NW Louisiana's state-leading performance of 2007, and represents a significant improvement in the New Orleans area traffic fatality rate, assuming there's not some reporting gap.

The vehicle pictured was involved in a fatal accident in St. Rose, LA on May 31, 2007 in which two teenage girls were killed. Remind your teenagers (and yourselves) to buckle up, to not drink and drive, and about the dangers of excessive speed.

February 1 Update - Troop A's public information officer told me that the Troop investigated 100 fatal accidents in 2007 that caused 112 deaths. This was 37 more deaths than I counted from the individual news releases. I plan to contact Troops B and C and ask for the same information.

I started a new spreadsheet for 2008. Through January, I counted 29 deaths in 25 accidents. The Baton Rouge area has been the most dangerous with Troop A investigating 7 fatalities and the Baton Rouge Police Department one more (an 8-year old boy).

January 18 Update - I continue to collect stats about 2007. This week I learned that Troop I hadn't posted news releases on their website for part of the year because of a computer malfunction. My records show Troop I responding to 29 fatal accidents that caused 33 deaths. The Troop I public affairs officer told me that the troop responded to 88 fatal accidents causing 100 deaths. The additional 67 deaths from Troop I brings my recorded total for 2007 to 613. This total may double count as many as seven Troop I-area deaths that I got from news reports.
Here's a link to the updated spreadsheet:

Please let me know if you can't see the spreadsheet by using this link. I'm not sure if I'm using Google Docs correctly to allow open access to this information.

The additional deaths reported by Troop I also changed the danger rankings of the various parts of the state. I calculated two statistics - deaths per 100 miles of roadway (taken from the Louisiana State Police website) and deaths per 10,000 population (from U.S. Census 2006 population estimates for Louisiana parishes). I combined local and state police jurisdictions where appropriate - I added Troop A and Baton Rouge Police Department fatality figures; Troop B and New Orleans and Slidell Police Departments figures ; and Troop G and Shreveport Police Department figures.

Based on road miles, Troop C's area (which I call the Southeast Bayou) is the most dangerous in the state. This area includes Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and parts of St. John the Baptist and St. James Parishes. The area has only 2,322 miles of roads (by comparison, Troop F's area in NE Louisiana has over 10,000 miles of roads), but still suffered 56 traffic fatalities in 2007. Its fatality rate of 2.41 per 100 roadway miles was 134% above the statewide average of 1.03 and almost 11 times higher than the Troop G area's (NW Louisiana) rate of 0.22.

In descending order, the remaining areas' danger rates based on roadway miles are: Troop A (metro Baton Rouge) 1.75; Troop B (metro New Orleans) 1.57; Troop I (Acadiana) 1.25; Troop L (North Shore) 1.23; Troop E (Central LA) 0.97; Troop D (SW LA) 0.75; Troop F (NE LA) 0.53; Troop G (NW LA) 0.22.

The most dangerous area based on deaths per 10,000 population was Troop E's (Central LA) at 2.51. In descending order the other areas are Troop C (SE Bayou) 2.14; Troop I (Acadiana) 1.64; Troop F (NE LA) and Troop L (North Shore) at 1.63; SW LA at 1.44; Metro Baton Rouge at 1.38; Metro New Orleans at 0.86; and NW LA at 0.51.

By average ranking from most to least dangerous - SE Bayou; Acadiana/Central LA (tie); North Shore/Metro BR (tie); Metro NO; NE LA; SW LA; NW LA.

I plan to contact Public Affairs Officers for other LSP Troops to get updated stats for 2007. I'll update the averages and rankings based on any new information. I expect that Troops A, B, C, G and L will have 10-20% additional deaths to report, which would add 20 to 40 deaths to the overall total.

January 4 Update - The New Year's holiday period fulfilled its deadly potential as the Louisiana State Police reported seven fatalities in seven separate accidents between December 28 and January 1. December 27 proved even more dangerous as three people died in three incidents.

December 27 was a tough day for non-motorists. An 85-year old bicyclist was struck by a car and killed in Baton Rouge. On LA 12 in Calcasieu Parish, a 52-year old male pedestrian was struck and killed while walking along a dark road at night. The other fatality on December 27 occurred in Pointe Coupee parish in a 2-car wreck that killed a 26-year-old man.

Two people died in traffic accidents on December 28. A 65-year-old women not wearing a seat belt was killed on LA 478 in a one-car accident. Later the same day, a 20-year-old man was killed in a similar accident.

December 29 claimed three lives, the first two in Rapides Parish wrecks that occurred just 5 hours apart. At 3:39 a.m. a 21-year-old female passenger was killed in a wreck with an 18-wheeler. She was not wearing a seat belt. At 8:58 a.m. an 89-year old man was killed in a 1-car wreck. He too was not wearing a seat belt. A third one-car wreck at 11:00 in Folsom killed a 23-year-old when the car caught fire.

New Year's Day was deadly for two motorists. A 38-year-old female died in a Tangipahoa Parish accident on LA 1094. She was not wearing a seat belt. In Lafource Parish, a 2-car accident killed a 49-year-old woman.

A positive sign is that alcohol was not reported initially to be involved in any of the fatal wrecks. One wreck happened at 2:10 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Five of the seven victims were not wearing seat belts. Please wear yours. It could save your life.

December 28 Update - The Christmas holiday period is behind us and the even more dangerous New Year's weekend has just begun. Here are some traffic fatality stats from the Christmas weekend and a wish for a fatality-free New Year's celebration.

Between December 21 and December 25, the Louisiana State Police responded to six fatal accidents causing seven deaths. This is the same number of fatal accidents and traffic deaths reported during the recent 5-day Thanksgiving weekend period.

Troop A responded to a Christmas Day wreck in West Baton Rouge Parish at the intersection of LA 1 and LA 3237 where a 47-year old male died when his vehicle collided with an 18-wheeler. The victim was not wearing a seat belt.

Troop C responded to a two-car accident on LA 3235 in Galliano, LA on December 23. Again a car and 18-wheeler collided. Both driver and passenger in the car, 20 and 24-year-old males respectively, were killed. Neither was wearing a seat belt.

Troop E responded to two fatal accidents during the period. The first happened on December 21 in Natchitoches Parish. Two cars collided head-on. The 49-year-old female victim was not wearing a seat belt.

The second accident in Troop E's jurisdiction happened on Christmas Day in Sabine Parish on LA 175. A 16-year-old male driver died when his car went off the road and struck a tree. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Three other fatal accidents were responded to by Troop L. One on December 22 took place in St. Tammany Parish on LA 36. A 18-year-old male passenger was killed in a one-car wreck where the driver was cited for DUI and vehicular homicide.

On December 23 at twilight, a 60-year-old male bicyclist was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on US 11 in St. Tammany Parish.

And just an hour later, a 67-year-old male was killed in a 2-car accident on US 190 in Tangipahoa Parish. Alcohol was involved in this crash.

The already-upon-us New Year's weekend, which runs from today through Tuesday, January 1, is even more dangerous than Christmas because of the likelihood that people will be drinking and driving as they celebrate the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. If you drink away from home, designate a sober driver or call a taxi to get home. If you don't have to leave home, just party there and stay off the roads. Look at the pyramid of hazard, particularly for those in south Louisiana. Overall, Louisiana is one of the most dangerous states to drive in; south Louisiana is by far the most dangerous half of the state. The overnight hours between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. are the most dangerous. And more people will be drinking and driving than usual because of the holiday. Do you want to pit your life and your family's future against those odds? Party at home. Stay overnight at the party or at a hotel you can walk to. Invite your friends to party with you and to stay the night. If you have to go home, take a taxi or designate a sober driver. Wear your seat belt and be extra observant of the driving habits of others, particularly at intersections and around curves.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year's celebration and a great 2008!

December 10 Update - Using police records and news reports, I've been assembling a spreadsheet of traffic fatalities on Louisiana's highways in 2007. Through December 10, the count is a grisly 496, suffered in 439 wrecks involving 626 vehicles.

As bad as this sounds, it's almost certainly an undercount, given that more than 900 Louisiana motorists were killed in traffic accidents in 2006, a total that was exceeded at least the last three years.

I lack data from Louisiana's small cities and parish sheriff departments, which don't publish data or news releases on the Internet. I expect that fatalities investigated by these jurisdictions make up most or all of the difference.

Still, the available data for 2007 shows some interesting patterns. State Police Troop C's territory (Louisiana SE Bayou country - Terrebone, Lafourche and Assumption Parishes primarily) is the most dangerous in the state (39% worse than second place Troop A (East Baton Rouge and surroundings); and almost 13 times more dangerous than NW Louisiana. Troop B's area (metro New Orleans) is close behind in third place. All 24 hours of the day are dangerous, with the hours between midnight and 3 a.m. being most so, given the number of cars on the road. By 4 a.m. the drunks are off the road or already dead, and the morning drunks haven't emerged yet.

All of this piles on top of Louisiana being of the three most dangerous states in the country, with a fatality rate 50% above the national average. Please, please stay off the road in bayou country after midnight. But if you have to, don't drink and drive and do wear your seat belt. Thanks!

My neighbor is a motorcyclist. This sign in his yard offers good advice.

LSP - Holiday Weekend Traffic Deaths Hold at 7; I-10 Reopened

November 26 - There are two pieces of good news to report. First, the holiday weekend ended without any more traffic fatalities being reported by LSP, NOPD, BRPD or Shreveport Police Department. The five-day holiday period ended with seven traffic fatalities reported in these jurisdictions, in line with data I've collected for 2007, and below the 2005 and 2006 rates of more than two fatalities per day for the entire state. The 2007 figures continue a positive downward trend for the Thanksgiving holiday period. LSP reported 17 fatalities during the period in 2005, nine in 2006 and six this year. (The seventh for 2007 was reported by NOPD.)

The second good news story is that I-10 has reopened across the Louisiana after almost 50 miles were closed for 10 days due to a natural gas well fire. During this period, I-10 traffic was rerouted along I-49, US 190, LA 415 and I-110 to Baton Rouge and to US 90 to New Orleans. Although State Police responded to more than 100 accidents along these highways in the ten days, most were minor and none resulted in a fatality.

November 25 - I don't know how LSP troopers face responding to fatal car crashes. I have trouble enough typing about them.

Friday was an expensive day as three people died in two crashes. The first occurred in Grant Parish when a Mercury Grand Marquis went off US 165 into a small group of trees, killing the 93-year-old driver and his 88-year-old passenger. A second 81-year-old passenger received critical injuries. The 88-year-old was not wearing a seat belt. The Grant Parish Coroner is investigating the cause of death.

Late Friday evening a one-car crash killed a 29-year-old man in Franklin Parish. He ran off LA 471. The car overturned and caught fire. The victim was not wearing a seat belt.

This brings the total number of fatalities reported by LSP and NOPD over the holiday weekend so far to seven. No fatalities have been reported by BRPD. Reports from other Louisiana police jurisdictions are unavailable on line.

November 24 - LSP responded to one fatal crash on Thanksgiving Day. Troop L reported a one-car crash in St. Helena Parish at 10:40 p.m on Thursday that claimed the life of a 32-year old male. The driver was not wearing a seat belt. Alcohol impairment is suspected. Baton Rouge and New Orleans Police Departments did not report any traffic fatalities on Thanksgiving Day.

November 22 - During the first day of the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) responded to two fatal crashes. The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) responded to one fatal crash.

The New Orleans crash happened at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday at North Broad and Thayer Streets. A 56-year-old driver left the roadway, struck a barrier and went into the Sewerage and Water Board's discharge pit.

The first accident reported by LSP happened at 2:37 p.m. on Wednesday in Franklin Parish (Troop F), where a 78-year-old man from Winn, LA died in a one-car accident on LA Highway 4. The driver ran off the road and struck a culvert. He was pronounced dead at Franklin Parish Medical Center.

The second happened in a similar accident at 9:32 pm in Livingston Parish, where Troop A reports that a 47-year-old man from Holden, LA died in a one-car accident on LA Highway 441. Again, the driver ran off the road and struck a culvert. He was not wearing a seat belt. Alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor. The driver was transported to Wood Hospital in Amite, LA, where he was later pronounced dead by the hospital staff.

So far there are no reports posted by LSP, NOPD or Baton Rouge Police Department of traffic deaths on Thanksgiving Day. Also on the good news side, there have been no reports of fatal accidents on US 190 between Opelousas and Baton Rouge, a section of road that has experienced an exceptionally level of traffic since the parallel segment of I-10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette has been shut down for almost two weeks due to the explosion and repair of a natural gas well just 100 yards from the highway near Ramah, Louisiana.