Number of deadly crashes in Tennessee increased since start of the COVID-19 pandemic

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While it seems like fewer cars on the road would result in fewer deadly traffic incidents, that has not been the case, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New data from the NHTSA shows an increase in traffic fatalities in 2020. Tennessee Highway Patrol says this dire trend is continuing into 2021.

Lieutenant Bill Miller with THP said the situation is not improving, “This time last year, there were 489 people who were killed on Tennessee roadways. This year to date, currently, there are 610 people.”

But what’s to blame for this increased incidence of deadly accidents? Distracted driving and driving under the influence remain major issues. But speeding is the biggest influence, and it’s something that has become more prevalent since the pandemic began.

“Drivers during the pandemic who were driving, they found the roadways were freer, more open. And so, they felt like they could drive faster, didn’t have the instructions. And now the traffic is getting back to normal. Their habit of speeding has only been fueled,” said Lt. Miller.

THP is increasing its enforcement of traffic laws and working with other agencies to tackle the problem to combat the rise in deadly traffic accidents.

“We’re working with Metropolitan [Nashville] Police Department, other agencies and joining forces and targeting roadways that we have identified as your more hazardous, more dangerous stretches of road, and we are doing blitzes and saturations out there in force to try to get the public’s attention,” Lt. Miller said.

Of course, public participation is key to lowering the number of traffic deaths. Miller reminds drivers to stay alert, slow down, and wear their seatbelts.

“Please slow down and arrive alive,” Lt. Miller said.

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