Tennessee Focusing on Road Safety

The Governor’s Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol are reaching out to communities across the state to offer help in reducing traffic fatalities.

The Tennessean reports that the agencies are putting more resources in counties that have the largest increase in fatal crashes.

“Some people might say it’s reactive, but we have a plan in place that when you see the numbers and a crash happens, then you go in instead of waiting a year for grant money,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “It helps us go in immediately and say ‘OK, what can we do?”‘

Earlier this week, the number of people who had died in traffic fatalities across Tennessee stood at 888.

Poole says that’s too high.

“It’s not just the numbers, though,” he said. “When you deal with the people that we do, it’s families. Those numbers mean something.”

Typically, state agencies reach out to local law enforcement in communities with the most need and create a strategy to improve road safety, which could lead to several efforts including an increased media campaign and DUI checkpoints.

“We’re driving to zero, and the best way to do it is to reach out to local law enforcement agencies and tell them we’re a partner with you and for you,” said THP spokesman Sgt. Bill Miller.

State and local agencies began working together this month in Maury County after fatalities tripled from five to 15 by November.

The biggest change in the fatality rate in 2013 has been in Shelby County, which has had 18 more traffic deaths than last year. The largest drop was in Lawrence County.