New Orleans sees major increase in fatal crashes this year

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 8:20 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Christmas isn’t the same this year for Terrell Davis. His father was killed last month on his way home.

“He was the man of the family. It took a lot out,” said Davis. “We're recovering.”

A teen driver struck Anthony Hickman, 61, as he crossed a busy stretch of S. Claiborne Avenue near General Taylor.

“The impact was just so hard he died instantly. She was going way over the speed limit,” said Davis. “I just went whew, it just took me off guard. I couldn't deal with it for a couple weeks.”

Hickman is one of four pedestrians killed on that stretch of S. Claiborne Avenue this year, according to police. In fact, a more than a quarter of pedestrian fatalities this year in New Orleans this year happened in the Claiborne corridor.

Some believe street light outages connected to a streetscape project were part of the problem.

“As a result of not only the community but me working with the administration, we've been able to get the lights back on permanently,” said LaToya Cantrell, District B Councilwoman.

Across the city, traffic fatalities are up nearly 50 percent from this time last year. Half of them are linked to drugs or alcohol.

“We're doing more checkpoints, we're doing more drunk driving efforts to put drivers in jail that are impaired,” said Lt. Anthony Micheu, commander of the New Orleans Police Traffic Unit.

There were 53 fatal crashes so far this year, resulting in 56 deaths. There were 36 fatal crashes by this time last year, with 36 deaths.

NOPD's shrinking traffic unit is working on safety measures in accident prone areas. After multiple crashes on the Interstate 10 high rise, police are working with the regional traffic management center to install flashing warning devices there.

And as Davis remembers his father, he hopes drivers will, too.

“I think more people paying attention now when they get on Claiborne. They be like, ‘All right, I know this is one of the areas where people are going to cross the street,’” said Davis.

Police say traffic fatalities often spike over the holidays. And they're asking everyone to have a designated driver if you're planning to drink and keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone.

 

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