Louisiana Department of Insurance
Volume 11, Issue 10
October 2011

Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
Paul Buffone
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Page Cortez
Manuel DePascual
Nick Gautreaux
Michael Guy
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Representative Chuck Kleckley
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Senator Eric LaFleur
Ann Metrailer
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish

Representative Chris Roy, Jr.
Stephen Schrempp
Earl Taylor
Rina Thomas

Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

Katie Walsh, Administrative Assist./Research Analyst

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LPCIC Meeting

The Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission held a meeting last month at the Department of Insurance with Mr. Manuel DePascual serving as acting Chairman. Representative Chris Roy, Jr., the consumer representative appointed by the president of the Senate, was welcomed as a new member. 

Mr. Charles L. Buckels of Redflex Traffic Systems and Mr. Ingolf Partenheimer, Chief Traffic Engineer-Department of Public Works (City of Baton Rouge) gave a presentation on road safety cameras, more commonly referred to as “red light cameras.”

Road safety cameras have been used in the United States since the late 1980’s, and have been used in Louisiana since about 2007. They can be found in approximately 3,000-4,000 fixed locations throughout 26 states. Statistically, there are 200,000 intersection crashes in the U.S. each year, resulting in 170,000 serious injuries and about 1,000 deaths. The presenters detailed how the cameras are installed and how they operate. Data collected over the years has shown positive changes since the deployment of the traffic cameras. There has been a significant reduction in crashes (typically low speed crashes) and a significant increase in crashes when existing cameras were banned. Although data collected in Louisiana is not as extensive because of the relatively recent use of cameras, there have been significant declines in total crashes, speed related crashes, right angle crashes and rear end crashes. Mr. Buckels, Mr. Partenheimer and Commissioner Donelon all believe that the reduction in crashes results in a reduction in insurance claims which will lead to a reduction in auto insurance premiums.

A recap of legislation from the 2011 Session was also presented to the Commission.

Mr. Mike Barron, consultant for the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC), discussed highway safety legislation, including Act 192, which increases ignition interlock monitoring and reporting. Mr. Barron represented LTC John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the LHSC, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Mr. Nick Gautreaux, Commissioner-Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV), elaborated on Act 192 and also spoke of other changes regarding the OMV. Some new laws include Act 370, which closes a gap penalizing lapsed auto insurance. Mr. Gautreaux suggested that it will take a new law to significantly reduce the rate of uninsured motorists, including "real time" insurance verification. He also spoke of changes to laws regarding driver’s education.

Mr. Ed O’Brien, Deputy Commissioner of Property and Casualty, Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI), highlighted the Department’s property and casualty legislative package. A new law allowing for the electronic delivery of insurance policies was passed during the Session. He also briefed the Commission on Act 135, permitting property and casualty short rate cancellations and noted that in accordance with HR 17, the LDI had completed, and would deliver, its study on homeowners premiums in the coastal parishes to the House Insurance Committee.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

Back to school, high school football games, homecoming dances... This is a busy and exciting time of the year for teens, many of whom are relatively inexperienced behind the wheel. Driving is a huge responsibility that teen drivers must take seriously. In 2007, Congress established National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) in order to raise awareness and seek solutions to unnecessary teen deaths on the road. Typically held annually on the third week of October, this year, October 16-22, has been designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week.

This year, emphasis has been placed on parents’ involvement in educating their teen drivers. Parental involvement in teaching teens to drive is critical. The majority of teens (87 percent) have reported that they have a parent involved in the learning process. Research has shown that teens that have parents who set rules and monitor their driving are half as likely to crash and twice as likely to buckle up as teens with less involved parents.

Ride Like a Friend, Drive Like You Care

National Teen Driver Safety Week is the perfect time for teens to get involved in the Ride Like a Friend (RLAF), Drive Like You Care campaign. Few teens realize just how serious the impact of driving distractions can be. Studies indicate that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths among teenagers. Sadly, statistics predict that more than 5,000 teens will likely die in an automobile accident this year.

The RLAF campaign is a school-based initiative supported by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies. It was designed to educate teens on safe teen passenger and driver behavior with information from other teens. It encourages students to work with teachers, advisors and each other to create peer-to-peer activities and materials promoting safety tips on how to be a safe driver and a safe passenger.

Cell phone use, driving at night and speeding are commonly discussed factors that distract teen drivers; however, studies conclude that peer passengers are also a major, and dangerous, driving distraction. Having a teen passenger in a vehicle doubles a teen driver’s risk of getting in a fatal crash; three or more passengers quadruples the risk. Teens need to be educated on the Graduated Drivers License laws in their state. Additionally, experts suggest that fatal crashes peak during the first six months a driver drives alone and that teen drivers should have no passengers under age 21 during the first six months after licensure, and no more than one peer passenger for the second six months.

Some ways that teens can “ride like a friend” include:

  • Wearing a seat belt
  • Reducing distractions
  • Respecting the driver
  • Helping the driver if asked
  • Limiting cell phone conversations

The most recent Louisiana statistics reflect the need for teen driver improvement. 2010 Crash Data was presented at a recent meeting of the Highway Safety Research Group. The statistics showed that drivers ages 15-17 made up 3.5 percent of all drivers involved in injury crashes. Another disturbing statistic presented at the meeting also concerned teen drivers. Drivers ages 18-20 made up 9.6 percent of drivers involved in injury crashes and the fatal crash rate (crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers) was nearly twice as high as the average crash rate of all drivers.

Hopefully, education, law enforcement and public service campaigns will continue to raise awareness of driver and passenger safety for teen drivers, passengers and their parents, which will ultimately make Louisiana’s roadways a safer place.

“Protect Your Family from Fire”

October 9-15 has been named National Fire Safety Week. This year, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) urges people to “Protect Your Family from Fire”. Each year, an estimated 374,900 residential fires are reported to fire departments across the country. These fires are responsible for approximately 2,630 deaths, 13,075 injuries and $7.6 billion in property damages, as reported by the USFA.

Follow these safety tips to ensure your family’s safety and help protect them (and your home) from fire:

  • Respect fire and teach your children to respect it also. Children playing with lighters and matches are a common cause of house fires. Statistically, young children and adults over the age of 65 are most at risk from dying or being injured in a house fire. Educate your children about the dangers of playing with fire.
  • Smoke alarms are an essential safety device that should be properly installed in every home. Research indicates that when working smoke alarms are present, the chance of dying in a home fire is cut in half. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, and should be able to be heard from every bedroom. To ensure that your smoke alarm is working properly, it should be tested once a month. Batteries should be changed once a year. The switch to Daylight Savings Time is a great reminder to change your batteries! While you are changing the time on your clocks, change your smoke alarm batteries also!
  • Make a fire escape plan and practice it with your family. Instruct your family to leave the home immediately if there is a fire. Every family member should know two ways out of each room in the home, in case fire is blocking one of those exits. Before you open a door to exit, feel the top of the door and the doorknob with the back of your hand to see if it is hot. If it is hot, use the alternate exit. Designate a meeting place away from the home to gather once you escape from the fire.

The USFA encourages everyone to talk to their families and educate them about the importance of fire safety. National Fire Safety Week should be a great reminder to all of us about the importance of the steps we should all take to protect our families from house fires. Do your part to protect your home, your property and the most valuable of all possessions, your family, from these dangerous and deadly home fires.