BATON ROUGE - Easter is a time when many Louisiana families leave town to spend a long weekend with relatives or take advantage of the warming spring temperatures and head to the many beaches that are within a day’s drive of their homes.

Anyone who has travelled on a major highway prior to, during and immediately following Easter Sunday has seen firsthand the traffic congestion that often occurs around this holiday.

While the Friday before Easter is not an official national holiday, in Louisiana many governmental offices, schools and businesses close. In addition, some other employees often take a vacation day on Friday to give them a long three-day weekend and enough time to travel.

“Traffic is heavier on the days leading up to Easter, and more cars on the road usually result in more crashes and more deaths and injuries from those crashes,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

State Police and local law enforcement agencies often increase their traffic patrols during and around holiday periods.

Easter this year is on April 20, meaning heavier traffic can be expected as early as the Thursday and Friday prior to the holiday.