Tennessee highway deaths drop in 2013 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Tennessee highway deaths drop in 2013


The Tennessee Department of Safety said its preliminary numbers show that fewer people died on Tennessee's roads in 2013. There were 988 deaths in 2013, compared to 1,015 in 2012.

The death toll has dipped below 1,000 only four times in the last 50 years.

Col. Tracy Trott said the state's hard work in two areas is paying off: getting people to buckle their seat belts, and to avoid driving while impaired.

Troopers have been cracking down on seat belt violators. In 2013, they wrote more than 74,000 citations. That's up from 47,000 the year before. The percent of deadly crashes in which drivers were unbuckled went down in 2013.

In 2012, there were 414 unrestrained fatalities, which represented 52.7 percent of the total number of fatalities. That decreased to 49 percent in 2013.

The number of fatal crashes in which drivers were drinking also dropped in 2013. There were 211 people killed in impaired driving crashes in 2013, compared to 295 in 2012.

But there's a new concern, and it's one the THP says is an epidemic -- distracted driving.

"There is no empirical data, but we feel at least half of our crashes are caused by some kind of distraction in the car, whether it's cell phone, email, texting, eating, reading.  We see all kinds of things on the road," said Trott.

Some law enforcement agencies are using unmarked vehicles to catch drivers on video texting behind the wheel.

"This is one of the top safety priorities. We have to do something to get people to not use electronic devices and drive," Trott said.


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