Baton Rouge Road Safety Overview

Baton Rouge Road Safety Overview

Baton Rouge has a poor reputation for road safety. Allstate’s 2019 list of America’s Best Drivers places the city 188th out of 200 of the nation’s largest cities. In other words, Baton Rouge drivers file more claims and have more hard-braking events than drivers in all but 12 large U.S. cities. According to this report, Baton Rouge has the most dangerous roads in Louisiana.

And the dangers go beyond car accidents in Baton Rouge. Pedestrians and bicyclists also suffer traffic collisions at an alarming rate. In one analysis, Baton Rouge was named the tenth-most dangerous city for pedestrians, with one of the biggest jumps in pedestrian deaths of any city surveyed.

Baton Rouge Traffic Crash Statistics

In 2023, Baton Rouge had 3,394 traffic crashes that caused injury or death, according to LSU’s Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety (CARTS). An additional 1,103 traffic crashes producing injury or death happened in rural East Baton Rouge. In total, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area covering East Baton Rouge Parish had 4,853 traffic accidents in 2023.

Unfortunately, this number has trended upward steadily since 2019, according to the Louisiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Dashboard. The total number of crashes producing serious injury or death increased by nearly 138% from 2019 to 2023. Before 2019, the number of fatal and serious injury crashes was remarkably steady for five years.

Crashes in the Baton Rouge metro area in 2023 included:

  • 76 collisions with bicycles
  • 136 collisions with pedestrians
  • 557 single-vehicle accidents involving road departures or collisions with fixed objects

The remaining 4,101 traffic accidents involved a multi-vehicle collision. These collisions included 139 motorcycle crashes and 188 commercial motor vehicle accidents. The remaining collisions involved passenger vehicles such as cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.

Injuries and Deaths From Traffic Crashes

Traffic crashes in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area in 2023 included:

  • 66 fatal crashes
  • 4,787 non-fatal injury crashes

In total, these crashes caused:

  • 70 fatal injuries
  • 339 serious injuries that required an ambulance
  • 7,493 minor or possible injuries that did not require an ambulance

Louisiana categorizes crash injuries by the severity noted by the police officers who investigated the crash. Thus, the severity does not necessarily reflect the eventual diagnosis. 

For example, a concussion might render a crash victim unconscious and require an ambulance. However, most concussion patients fully recover within two months.

On the other hand, officers might classify a herniated disc as a minor injury since it usually happens without any visible wound. However, an accident victim might suffer chronic pain and permanent disabilities even after surgery to repair their back injury.

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety

Traffic crashes in the Baton Rouge metro area in 2023 included 136 pedestrian accidents and 76 bicycle accidents. 

These crashes caused:

  • 25 pedestrian fatalities
  • 43 severe injuries to pedestrians
  • 70 minor injuries to pedestrians
  • 2 cyclist fatalities
  • 13 severe injuries to cyclists
  • 44 minor injuries to cyclists

During a crash, pedestrians and cyclists have nothing to protect them. They can suffer injuries in the initial vehicle collision or a secondary collision with the ground. The resulting injuries can range from road rash abrasions to fatal brain injuries. In 2023, 100% of pedestrians and 78% of cyclists hit by cars suffered injury or death.

Pedestrian and bicycle collisions happen for only a few reasons, including:

  • Jaywalking
  • Inattentive or distracted driving
  • Failing to yield at crosswalks
  • Speeding
  • Intoxicated driving

In 2023, the number of collisions with pedestrians in Baton Rouge continued an upward trend. Bicycle collisions remained steady from the previous year.

Causes of Crashes in Baton Rouge

Multi-vehicle collisions in Baton Rouge happen for many reasons. The most common reason cited by CARTS included distracted or inattentive driving. Distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in an activity that takes their hands, eyes, or minds off of driving. Common distractions include talking to passengers, eating, and cell phone use.

Inattentive driving happens when the driver simply does not pay attention to their surroundings. Inattentiveness may occur due to fatigue or boredom. The result is careless driving, during which the driver fails to spot traffic or road hazards in time to avoid them.

Another cause of crashes in Baton Rouge is speeding. This driving behavior happens when drivers exceed the speed limit or travel too fast for the road or weather conditions. Speeding extends the braking distance a vehicle needs to stop safely. It also reduces the time drivers have to react to hazards.

Finally, impaired driving is a leading cause of fatal crashes. Of the 66 people killed in traffic crashes in Baton Rouge in 2023, 21 died in drunk driving collisions. Drunk drivers also caused 383 injuries.

Drugs and alcohol impair a driver’s perception and judgment. They also affect a driver’s reflexes and risk tolerance. As a result, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol are less likely to identify risks and maneuver safely to avoid them.

When Crashes Happen

Crashes in the Baton Rouge metro area tend to happen in the afternoon and evening. In 2023, the majority of accidents on Monday and Thursday occurred during the afternoon commute. Every other day of the week had their peak crash times in the evening after rush hour.

How Can Drivers Avoid Car Crashes in Baton Rouge, LA?

Baton Rouge has many traffic issues. But drivers can reduce their risk of crashes in a few ways. First, drive sober and avoid driving late at night. Most intoxicated driving crashes happen on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Second, slow down. Many of Baton Rouge’s crashes result from speeding. During rainstorms and foggy weather, make sure you drive at an appropriate speed for the distance you can see.

Finally, wear your seat belt. According to CARTS, seat belt use among crash victims is dismally low. If everyone in the state wore seat belts, dozens of lives would be saved every year.

Driving in Baton Rouge can be dangerous, particularly on the city’s congested downtown roads. But if you slow down, drive sober, and wear a seat belt, you can navigate the city’s roads safely.