Do highway safety billboards really help drivers?

Do highway safety billboards really help drivers?

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"I hope it drives home a message. I hope it gets your attention and keeps you from speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, following too close, not wearing your seatbelt," said Lt. Don Boshears with THP. "I hope it drives home a message. I hope it gets your attention and keeps you from speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, following too close, not wearing your seatbelt," said Lt. Don Boshears with THP.
At the beginning of this year, safety messages reading "Buckle Up" and "Don't Drink and Drive" began popping up on billboards over interstates. At the beginning of this year, safety messages reading "Buckle Up" and "Don't Drink and Drive" began popping up on billboards over interstates.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Even though the Thanksgiving travel rush is over the Tennessee Highway Patrol says from now until New Years the traffic is going to be heavy with more drivers on the roadways shopping and attending holiday parties.

More traffic means an increased risk of a crash. THP has taken new steps this year to try and reduce the number of fatal crashes, but has it worked?

At the beginning of this year, safety messages reading "Buckle Up" and "Don't Drink and Drive" began popping up on billboards over interstates.

The billboards also display the number of people who've died in crashes on Tennessee roadways.

The THP believes this new method of sharing the message is effective.

Brandon Hall drives from Knoxville to Calhoun. He says lately traffic has been crazy.

"There was some erratic driving due to people changing lanes and there were actually a few occasions were I got cut off," said Hall.

To reduce the reckless driving and reduce the number of fatal crashes, Lt. Don Boshears with THP says troopers target areas that see lots of crashes.

"We'll take a large number of troopers and we'll just saturate that area for a period, looking for impaired driving," said Lt. Boshears.

In the high crash areas, THP will also have sobriety check points.

Besides focusing enforcement on the roadway, THP tries to get the word out about the dangers of reckless driving through messages on TDOT's overhead billboards.

"I hope it drives home a message. I hope it gets your attention and keeps you from speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, following too close, not wearing your seatbelt," said Lt. Boshears.

But is it working? Last year at this time, Tennessee had 859 crash fatalities, the lowest number since the 1960s.

This year the Tennessee roadway fatality number is up to 909, 50 more than last year.

Lt. Boshears says the increase may be because of the weather at the beginning of the year.

"We can look back and say we had a mild winter where we didn't have a lot of ice, didn't have a lot of snow and when you don't have those conditions, more people are out," said Lt. Boshears.

The billboard safety messages started this year.

Halls says seeing the number of fatalities on Tennessee roadways does make an impact.

"It kind of opened my eyes to how many fatalities there actually are in Tennessee. I don't know if it affected my driving very much, but it made me more aware of other drivers on the road," said Hall.

Lt. Boshears also says since traffic is heavy from Thanksgiving until New Years, drivers should give themselves extra travel time to reach their destination.

He also says to buckle up. It only takes a couple of seconds and increases your chance of survival in a crash by 50 percent.

THP also reports that alcohol-related crashes are on the rise in Tennessee. There have been more than 5,000 crashes involving alcohol already this year.

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