Distracted Driving Crashes on the Rise in Nashville, State of Tennessee
Late last month, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) began accepting entries for its third annual Safety Message Contest, offering drivers the opportunity to craft the safety messages that appear on the Dynamic Message Signs above I-65 and the other interstates that crisscross Nashville.
Last year’s winning entries were both compelling and memorable. Among my favorites: “Get the cell off your phone and drive,” and “Practice safe text, don’t do it while driving.”
Of course, the idea behind these pithy messages is to help TDOT raise awareness about highway safety issues—and to save lives. Perceptive drivers no doubt have noticed that TDOT also uses the overhead signs to display roadway fatality statistics, helping underscore the need to draw attention to growing safety concerns about distracted driving, not to mention impaired driving and speeding, three of the five safety categories addressed by the 2017 Dynamic Message Sign Contest.
Fewer DUI-Related Fatalities, More Distracted Driver Crashes
Recent traffic fatality statistics suggest an urgent need to remind Middle Tennessee drivers about the importance of practicing safe driving habits. According to the State of Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, “[T]he five … calendar years (2011-2015) were five of the six lowest traffic fatality years over the past 50-year period,” a drop attributed, in part, to the reduction in traffic fatalities related to DUI.
Yet in 2016 there were 1,042 traffic fatalities on Tennessee roads, the highest number since 2008, this despite a persistent decline in “known-alcohol related traffic crashes,” (6,220, as compared to 8,232 ten years earlier).
During that same period, however, distracted driver crashes—those attributed to inattentive drivers who were texting, using their cell phones, operating a GPS, etc.—have become increasingly common, rising from 10,573 in 2006 to a whopping 24,743 in 2016. Davidson County—home to Raybin & Weissman’s office—is no exception; there were 2,861 distracted driver crashes in Davidson in 2016 (as compared to 1,469 in 2006), second-most of any county in the state. Only Shelby County (Memphis) had more, with an eye-popping 7,143.
Unfortunately, the early indicators for 2017 aren’t promising. Year-to-date numbers* provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security show that the number of traffic fatalities is up over last year, with Nashville-area fatalities (including Davidson County and Williamson County, among nine others) up twenty-seven percent as compared to 2016.
Preventing Traffic Fatalities in Nashville
What can you do if you’re a concerned Davidson County resident—or spend a lot of time driving in the Nashville metropolitan area? First, familiarize yourself with the most dangerous intersections in Davidson County, five of which are in Madison or East Nashville, with two in Antioch and three in South Nashville.
Take note of the known dangers at these intersections and be extra-cautious when driving through them.
Meanwhile, take a few minutes to remind yourself of the 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Involved in a Car Accident. A little bit of advance preparation and knowledge can go a long way if you have the misfortune of being involved in a wreck.
Last but not least, I encourage you to have fun thinking of entries for the Safety Message Contest, which runs through February 10. If you’ve missed the deadline for entering, vote for your favorite entry between February 21 and March 7, or share your favorite contest safety messages on social media using the hashtag #WhatsYourSign (and @nashvilletnlaw, if you’re on Twitter).
“Fighting for your rights” Contact David Weissman and the law firm of Raybin & Weissman for a confidential consultation of your case today at 615-237-8934.