Traffic fatalities on Tennessee roadways up nearly 7%

Traffic fatalities on Tennessee roadways up nearly 7% (Image 1)

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reports the number of traffic deaths on Tennessee roadways is more than six percent higher than this time last year.

Beginning in late April, TDOT began posting the number of traffic deaths on interstate message boards.

Since April 28, motorists have watched the number of deaths rise from 288 to 690.

“I felt like it was pretty alarming every time it would go up just with in a couple of days,” motorist Chanell Browand said.

Driver Richard Crockett added, “I hate seeing those numbers because one day it could be one of my kids up there.”

Nashville's News 2 spoke with TDOT officials who said the signs are bringing awareness.

“It brings attention to the fact that almost 1,000 people die in Tennessee every year,” explained Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott.

He continued “Even though we are up 6.8%, we feel like we are maintaining our own and doing some good things.”

Trott said he attributes this year's increase to a few factors including record low fatalities in 2011, as well as the mild winter allowed motorcyclists to ride earlier in 2012 which resulted in more motorcycle deaths earlier this year.    

“We have made a lot of efforts in our DUI enforcement. The last 18 months we have increased our DUI arrests 75% as an agency,” said Trott.

Trott added that not wearing seatbelts also continues to play a role for deaths on Tennessee roadways.

“This year 55% of our fatalities involve people who are not wearing their seatbelt,” Trott said.

THP will continue aggressively enforcing seatbelt and DUI laws.

THP leaders are also working with legislators to increase the penalties for those who are caught not wearing their seatbelt.

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