NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Fourth of July holiday is considered one of the deadliest on U.S.highways. A state trooper was badly injured on Interstate 55 on Friday, and authorities are warning drivers to be safe amid some dangerous trends.
She was out assisting a stalled motorist. Now a state trooper has become a crash victim herself on what is traditionally one of the year's most dangerous driving weekends.
"She's not of the woods right now...she's in a lot of pain," said Colonel Mike Edmonson with Louisiana State Police.
State troopers are staffing up for a busy weekend, and they want motorists to be careful.
"If you see lights, pull over, and slow down," said Edmonson.
If recent trends hold, there may be many more accidents to come. The National Highway Safety Administration says fatalities rose nearly 8 percent last year. That's the biggest year-to-year jump in 50 years.
"Unfortunately, in 2015 troopers made death notifications to six families. That's six families involved in fatal crashes over the Fourth of July weekend," said trooper Dustin Dwight with Troop L.
Driven by cheap fuel prices, nearly 40 million drivers are expected on the roads and State Police plan to strategically beef up staff.
"We look at where our crashes are and try and put additional units in the area," said Edmonson.
"Always wear your seat belts, avoid distractions and never drive impaired," said Dwight.
If you are found to be driving drunk or drugged, or caught texting, State Police will cite you.
"If you've been doing any kind of drug, don't drive a car. When we stop you, your choices are over with," said Edmonson.
For now, troopers are hoping one of their own pulls through at University Medical Center.
"She's alert, and she's got a helluva grip," said Edmonson.
But they urge others to be careful, as they have fun, for the Fourth.
While the National Highway death rate rose 8 percent, Louisiana's death rate jumped by 3 percent. The National Safety Council says Oregon saw the biggest increase, with 27 percent more people dying on the roads last year than the year before.