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Tennessee traffic fatalities up in 2020 despite significant drop in travel; TDOT focused on more messaging

Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partners at the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are teaming up to raise public awareness of the alarming fatality crash rate on Tennessee’s roadways. It’s not OK for the number of deadly crashes to be at an all-time high in a year where traffic was at an all-time low.

“In 2020, fatalities increased nearly 7%, while traffic was down approximately 13% in Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright. “This number is staggering and it’s not OK. We want motorists to take notice and work with us in making a change.”

“Last year, we saw 1,211 fatalities on state highways,” Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said. “The loss of life is never easy, especially when it could have been avoided. We encourage the public to make safe choices when traveling. Obey the speed limit, stay off your phone, don’t drive distracted or impaired and please wear your seat belt. Those simple choices will greatly cut down the chances of you dying in a crash.”

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Of the 1,211 fatalities in 2020, 396 were unrestrained; that is 32% more than 2019. The urban and rural areas of our state were up 56% and 44% in fatalities. Shelby County leads the way with a total of 244 roadway fatalities in 2020; that’s 20% of the total deaths.

Throughout this week on social media, TDOT will be posting information to raise awareness of the importance of driving safe.

In addition to social media, Safety messages are being displayed on TDOT’s overheard Dynamic Message Signs on interstates in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville

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