News release from Department of Safety:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott today announced the preliminary number of traffic fatalities on state roadways have decreased by nearly 14 percent (13.8%) for the first six months of 2013, compared to the same time period in 2012.
The THP reported 436 people died in traffic crashes in Tennessee from January 1 through June 30, 2013. That is 70 fewer than the 506 vehicular fatalities that occurred during the same dates in 2012. Please note these figures include vehicular fatalities reported by all law enforcement agencies across the state.
Colonel Trott also noted a 10.7 percent decline in alcohol-related crashes investigated by the THP. State Troopers worked 975 impaired driving accidents from January 1 through June 30, 2013, a drop from the 1,092 crashes involving alcohol the previous year during the same time frame.
“DUI enforcement has become one of our agency’s top priorities in the last few years. We have arrested 3,151 individuals on suspicion of impaired driving during the first six months of this year – a 9.8 percent increase from the 2,870 DUI arrests made the first half of 2012,” Colonel Trott said. “Each time we remove a drunk driver from our roadways, we reduce the chance of a serious injury or fatal crash occurring,” he added.
News release from state Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will continue to display fatality messages on its overhead Dynamic Message Signs, but will do so on a weekly basis rather than daily. TDOT began displaying the fatality numbers on the signs in April 2012 after seeing a sharp increase in fatalities in the first quarter of the year.
“We feel the fatality messages have been extremely successful in increasing awareness about highway deaths across the state this year, and may have helped us stop the dramatic increase we saw early in 2012,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “We have also heard from drivers who say the messages have caused them to make positive changes in their driving behavior.”
While somewhat controversial, the fatality messages have garnered mostly positive responses from Tennessee motorists. A Franklin, TN man emailed to say the signs made an impression on him and his friends, “I have to tell you that none of us ever wore seat belts until we saw those signs. We are all in our 50s and did not grow up wearing seatbelts. Since we saw your signs, we kid each other on how ALL of us always wear them now. You may think people are not paying attention because fatalities are up, but I have talked to so many people that have changed their seatbelt wearing habits since you put those signs up. Thank you.”
TDOT will also continue to run safety messages targeted at specific issues like texting while driving, drowsy driving, and driving under the influence.
Note: Previous post HERE
State transportation officials have yet to decide whether they’ll keep using 151 electronic highway signs across Tennessee to show a daily count of traffic fatalities in 2013, according to the Tennessean.
Kendell Poole, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, said the signs are a “victory for saving lives,” despite fatalities this year topping 1,000 and surpassing last year’s total. He favors using them again in 2013.
…As of Friday, there were 1,002 traffic deaths this year, 69 more than at the same point last year. In 2011, there were 938 total traffic fatalities, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety. (Note: The website listing fatalities, which on Monday morning still had Friday’s figures for 2012, is HERE.)
The increase raises questions about the effectiveness of the signs. Some motorists say they don’t work, but Poole and other state officials say, at a minimum, they get people talking about staying safe.
“It was always our goal to raise awareness, and we certainly think we have done that,” Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Beth Emmons said. “People are always talking about it.”
…In 2011, traffic deaths reached a nearly 50-year low, and this year’s total probably still falls below that of 2010, which saw 1,032 fatalities, Donnals said.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer decided to erect the signs in April after seeing a spike in deaths through the first three months of the year.
From January through March, there were 64 more traffic deaths than during the same three months in 2011. But from April through November, there were just three more deaths than during the corresponding period in 2011.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The embattled Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is facing more scrutiny for not providing details about 31 children it had investigated that died during the first six months of this year.
In September, the agency released information that showed the numbers after repeated requests from a Democratic lawmaker and The Tennessean.
Now, the newspaper (http://tnne.ws/TCv8k7) said DCS has denied its requests to review the files involving the child fatalities.
The newspaper contends the information it has received provides limited details. Instead of providing the actual case files, the state has provided brief summaries, according to the newspaper.
Last week, The Tennessean and its counsel sent a letter to DCS calling its disclosures “woefully inadequate” and asking the agency to make records public by Dec. 18.
“The State has provided no investigative reports, fatality reviews, or task force reports, among other materials which are covered by The Tennessean’s requests,” noted the letter from the newspaper and Tennessean attorney Robb Harvey.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee traffic fatalities declined sharply this year, reaching their lowest figure in 49 years.
So far in 2011, 926 people have died in wrecks in the state. It’s the fewest since 811 in 1962.
Col. Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol credits drunken driving enforcement, increased seat belt use, educational safety programs in schools and other factors. But he still wishes more drivers and passengers would buckle up.
“It’s the simplest and most effective way to protect yourself on the road,” Trott said.
He called the 2011 figure “a great accomplishment.”
Until last year, such figures had been declining. There were 1,211 in 2007, 1,043 in 2008 and 989 in 2009, then a spike to 1,030 in 2010. The deadliest year was 1,444 in 1973.
Traffic fatalities are down by 86 this year compared to last year, putting Tennessee on track for the first sub-900 fatality year since statistics were recorded, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
At the end of June 2010, Tennessee had 501 traffic deaths, but 2011 has only seen 415.
Although gas prices are high and police have been out in force to keep the roads safe, Clint Shrum, law enforcement liaison for the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, attributes the decline to one simple factor — more people are buckling up.
According to a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga study, seat belt usage is up to just over 87 percent from 81.6 percent last year.
“I think the message is finally hitting home. We put the message out there, ‘click it or ticket,’ buckle your seat belt because it’s the law, and people are starting to see the carnage that happens in accidents when people are not using a seat belt,” Shrum said. “That one act can determine whether you live or die in a crash.”