MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Right now deadly car crashes are on the rise in Monroe County. The sheriff says 19 lives have been taken on roadways in his county so far this year, which is six more than in 2021.

Just about everywhere in East Tennessee, the roads are busy.

“Drive safely on our roadways. Wear your seatbelt. Don’t drive distracted. Don’t drive impaired and please don’t speed. If you do things, we’ll continue to do our best effort to make sure you get to your destination alive and safely,” said Derrick Woods with Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

After finding success in Campbell County, a fatality reduction plan is now going into action in Monroe County. It’s a partnership between several agencies including the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO).

“A lot of people from out of state move into Monroe County,” Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones said. “It’s been probably one of the largest population increases in a long time.”

Overall, traffic fatalities are down more than 3% in Tennessee. But a slight uptick in Monroe County is causing the sheriff’s office and highway patrol to increase traffic enforcement.

“It’s the same amount of funding as we’ve had here in the county. The governor’s highway safety office has always has been great as far as grants and funding coming through to them also,” Jones said.

“Don’t misinterpret,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Clint McKissack said. “We can’t predict the future, but this is a way to give us a leg up on the areas where this is potentially going to happen so that we can put our troopers in the area where they’re going to have the greatest impact.”

One trooper’s presence on the roadways has an effect on hundreds of drivers, according to McKissack. While patrol grows under the traffic fatality reduction plan, authorities will also increase checkpoints.

“Any kind of reduction that we see is going to be tremendous,” McKissack said.

“The hardest thing for any deputy or police officer to do is to knock on the door and to tell someone their loved one has been killed in a traffic accident,” Jones said. “And that’s something we don’t want to do. We want to stop that.”

Sheriff Jones added there is no particular area in Monroe County where deadly car accidents are happening, but also encourages drivers to be careful and smart.