Ascension’s new Safety Director cautions against Distracted Driving

Ascension Safety & Security Director James LeBlanc

Ascension Parish has a new Safety & Security Director in the familiar personage of James LeBlanc.  35 years with St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department, overlapping with his employment at Honeywell, the ubiquitous LeBlanc’s skill set and experience seem perfectly suited to the job.  On Tuesday he appeared before the Council’s Strategic Planning Committee to lead a discussion about distracted driving as part of the Ascension Parish Safety Initiative.

LeBlanc presented statistics from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and, more authoritative, real world experience from having “worked traffic accidents” as Fire Chief of St. Amant’s all volunteer department.

“Most of the accidents we have in Ascension, it’s sad to say, are caused by distracted driving.  We’ve had fatalities recently which were directly attributable to it,” LeBlanc said, citing NHTSA estimates that “driver inattention is a factor in 80% of all highway collisions.”

Both “in-vehicle” distractions like:

  • Use of mobile phones
  • Eating
  • Talking with passengers
  • Inappropriate use of vehicle entertainment or navigation systems

and “outside the vehicle” distractions:

  • Collision scenes
  • Advertisements
  • Pedestrians

LeBlanc cited telephone use as a primary cause, particularly texting.

“On average a texting driver’s eyes are diverted from the road for five seconds,” LeBlanc explained.  “At 55 mph the subject vehicle will travel the length of a football field.”