The commissioners of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Thursday announced specific actions their agencies are taking to help curb the number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee. As of Oct. 17, there have been 800 people killed on Tennessee roadways in 2013. That is the same number of fatalities this same time last year.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer announced his department will display the daily traffic fatality figures on its dynamic message boards across the state. This figure will be updated each weekday and will be compared to the number of fatalities on the same date in 2012.
"It's my hope that seeing the fatality numbers on a daily basis will help drivers make better decisions that can save lives," Mr. Schroer said. "Whether it's putting your phone down, watching your speed, buckling your seat belt, or choosing not to drive impaired, every single motorist can do their part to prevent more tragedies on our roadways."
TDOSHS Commissioner Bill Gibbons said the Tennessee Highway Patrol will continue to focus on specific DUI and seatbelt enforcement efforts that will include special enforcement campaigns throughout the upcoming holiday travel season.
“While we made great progress in the first six months of 2013 compared to last year, the last three months have been very deadly on Tennessee roadways,” Mr. Gibbons said. “I know that our stepped up efforts at DUI and seat belt enforcement have saved lives. We will continue to focus on those areas.”
Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott released preliminary data that show decreases in the state wide number of alcohol-related crashes and the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes to date in 2013, compared to this time last year. A total of 172 individuals have died in alcohol-related crashes through October 16, compared to 252 at this time in 2012 (a drop of 31.7 percent). To date, there has been a 10.7 percent decline in total alcohol-related crashes this year.
The THP has taken a strategic and data driven approach this year to DUI enforcement efforts that has resulted in 5,039 arrests for driving under the influence through October 16. That is a 10 percent increase over the number of DUI arrests made this time last year (4,578).
State troopers have greatly focused on issuing seatbelt citations in 2013, as well, resulting in a 52.2 percent increase compared to this time last year (59,918 citations in 2013; 39,392 in 2012.) So far this year, there have been 289 unrestrained fatalities on Tennessee roadways, compared to 331 this time last year (a 12.7 percent decrease).
“I believe our enforcement efforts are making a difference. I know we have helped saved lives. But I am concerned that the number of fatalities continues to rise. We will continue to use proven enforcement campaigns, such as Operation Nighthawk, and other aggressive efforts, especially during the holiday travel season,” Mr. Trott said.
“The safety of the citizens who travel our roadways is our number one priority. We will continue to work together to utilize education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency response to increase safety, especially when we see alarming trends in fatalities like we’ve seen over the past three months,” said Kendell Poole, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.