Tennessee traffic fatalities increase since last year, report finds

The Daily Helmsman
October 14, 2017

Tennessee roads have seen 12 more driving fatalities than this time last year, according to a report by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Last year, 791 lives were lost during traffic accidents and 803 have been lost so far this year as of Oct. 11.

The report also shows Shelby County has had over 300 car crashes this year that involved alcohol and over 5,000 crashes that were caused by cell phone usage.

Wesley Moster, the deputy director of communications at the Tennessee Safety and Homeland Security Department, said causes of accidents vary, but there is a frequent pattern in some instances.

“The cause of a fatal crash is different,” Moster said. “However, we’re seeing lots of distracted driving, lack of seatbelt usage, speed, impairment caused by the usage of alcohol or drugs and drowsy driving.”

Aside from these factors, age also is possibly correlated with these accidents. The report found that the amount of senior drivers involved in crashes increased from 175 to 189, while teen drivers’ involvement decreased from 75 to 61.

Although the amount of car accident deaths has increased from last year to this year, Moster said there have been some decreases in other areas.

“The fatality rate in Tennessee under Governor Haslam’s administration has decreased from 1.47 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010 to 1.35 in 2016,” Moster said. “Furthermore, preliminary data indicates that 2015 had the second fewest traffic fatalities in Tennessee since 1963.”

To apply traffic safety and reduce car accidents, Tennessee’s Highway Patrol has decided to use a predictive data analytics model, also known as C.R.A.S.H., which has been used in the state’s eight districts since June 2014.

Moster said the program helps troopers determine where accidents are most likely to occur and whether or not certain factors will have an effect.

“Historical data is used to predict how likely a particular kind of incident could occur in an area at a given time,” Moster said. “Crash forecasts are formed based on the date, time and location of historical traffic crashes and combined with our knowledge of current weather forecasts and upcoming events that are likely to affect traffic volume or safety in a significant way.”

Aside from an analytical data system, two companies, Ever Quote Inc. and Cambridge Mobile Telematics, teamed up to create the EverDrive app. The app tracks a driver’s habits, speed and phone usage as a way to teach them to be safer on the roads.