BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Department of Transportation reported that 997 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, breaking the record of 993 deaths set in 2007.

In 2020, 762 crashes and 828 fatalities were reported.

DOTD preliminary data for 2021 shows a total of 914 crashes in 2021, though officials said final numbers will not be available until the end of March.

“The number of fatalities in 2021 is alarming and we can easily stop this trend,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The fact that there are an average of three deaths per day on Louisiana highways is unacceptable. If travelers would obey the traffic laws, wear their seatbelts and be patient with one another, we could see these numbers go down considerably. Please keep the people who died in crashes in your thoughts and prayers – there are nearly 1,000 family members who died in 2021.”

“It’s extremely disheartening to see our highway fatality statistics soaring in the wrong direction,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “We consistently stress to everybody the dangers of distracted and impaired driving and the importance of seatbelts, but we have to do better. Having nearly a thousand fatalities on the road in a year is inexcusable, unacceptable, and frightening, especially when the vast majority of them are preventable. There is not one parish in the state that did not witness at least one accident. We have to do better Louisiana; it’s everyone’s responsibility.”

Risky driving behaviors, such as impaired and distracted driving, remain the cause of most highway fatalities, said the DOTD report. According to statewide crash data statistics from 2017 to 2020, 40% of all highway fatalities involved alcohol. Impaired driving is operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or other impairing substances. Distracted driving is operating a motor vehicle in which the driver is distracted by anything inside or outside the vehicle, most commonly cell phone use and texting. Other distracting activities include eating or drinking, talking to passengers, operating the vehicle’s infotainment system, or any other activity that involves the driver not watching the road, letting go of the steering wheel, or not focusing on driving.

For more information, including statistics, please visit the LHSC and Destination Zero Deaths websites.