New patrols aim to reduce traffic fatalities

New patrols aim to reduce traffic fatalities

Posted:
At the time of publication, 176 people had died in Tennessee from traffic accidents. At the time of publication, 176 people had died in Tennessee from traffic accidents.
"Distracted driving is a huge thing we're dealing with right now," said Sgt. Heatherly. "A lot of people have iPads and iPods. Their cell phones are computers and that's a big deal right now." "Distracted driving is a huge thing we're dealing with right now," said Sgt. Heatherly. "A lot of people have iPads and iPods. Their cell phones are computers and that's a big deal right now."

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In 2012, 1,019 people died in traffic accidents statewide. So far this year that number is 176.

Now, the Governor's Highway Safety Office is partnering with Tennessee Highway Patrol and several other local law enforcement agencies to reduce that number.

"We are working later shifts," said Sgt. Stacey Heatherly with THP. "We have some midnight shifts that we are enforcing more DUIs on and then we've got some special enforcement that we are really going to focus on in April and May."

Over the next six months, increased patrols will target impaired and aggressive drivers as well as those not wearing seatbelts. They will also be focusing on a relatively new challenge that seems to get worse every year.

"Distracted driving is a huge thing we're dealing with right now," said Sgt. Heatherly. "A lot of people have iPads and iPods. Their cell phones are computers and that's a big deal right now."

Special focus will be put on Anderson, Blount, Campbell and Sevier counties where there were 175 traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2012 alone. Of that four-county area, Blount County led the way with 53 deaths followed by 49 in Sevier County.

"175 families mourned the death of a loved one either a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a husband or a wife," said Steve Dillard with the Governor's Highway Safety Office.

"That's a really tough job to do. It's really tough to tell a mom that they've lost a daughter or a son," added Sgt. Heatherly.

They hope once these new patrols and programs are implemented, they won't have to make nearly as many of those house calls.

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