Accident settlements involving parish vehicles adding up for Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Members of the Baton Rouge Metro Council introduced four items Wednesday night involving accident settlements totaling over $80,000. Those settlements stem from accidents involving two Baton Rouge Police officers, an animal control officer and a Department of Public Works employee.

According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office, about $1.5 million has been paid out in accident settlements between January 1, 2009 and March of 2012. Since January 1, 2013 BRPD vehicles have been involved in 116 accidents with about half being the fault of the city employee. However BRPD vehicles also logged more than 11 million miles last year, according to a department spokesman.

"There've been some pretty bad accidents that the city has been at fault with and the city has had to pay for," said Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso.

Amoroso wants to see a reduction in settlements and helped pass an ordinance in March requiring all city and parish employees who operate city vehicles to go through a driving training course. A course Amoroso said he completed as well.

"It's understandable. We have accidents we'll never be able to get down to zero but if we can eliminate some of these by using new technologies, by making people go through training on a routine basis," added Amoroso. "Then I think we'll start reducing these accidents."

In addition to driver training, Amoroso says he would be in favor of GPS-type devices for every city and parish vehicle that could monitor things like speed and driving habits, for reasons that go well beyond saving taxpayer dollars.

"It's more than just the money. It's the safety of the road, it's the safety of our employees, and it's the safety of the people that drive on the roads. Really for the safety of the drivers of Baton Rouge, really that's what I am primarily concerned with," said Amoroso.

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