Tennessee Highway Safety Office promoting motorcycle safety ahead of summer

Local News

Motorcycle fatalities on Tennessee roadways are seeing an all-time high and with warmer weather approaching, those numbers are expected to get worse. That’s why law enforcement is springing into action.

“I love riding,” said Motorcyclist Dave Gara, “People who love riding are gonna do so regardless of the inherent danger.”

 In 2017, there were 134 deaths in Tennessee. In 2018 there were 168–the highest it’s ever been. 

“You have to assume no one is looking for you or seeing you,” Gara said.

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) says it has always been an issue, but the increase in crashes and fatalities is causing more concern. They have set aside $100,000 dollars to provide grants to the most impacted counties.

“We took a hard look at our crash rates involving motorcycles… for the past three years and identified eight counties across the state of Tennessee where we see a higher crash rate than other counties,” said the Tennessee Highway Safety Director Vic Donoho.

Most of the counties are in highly populated areas including Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. 

“It’s a $12,000 dollar grant,” said Sgt. Kevin Lovell with the Metropolitan Police Department’s fatal crash investigation team.

 “We’re gonna do five waves of enforcement. Enforcement/education. So the group we’re having do that is a motorcycle unit from downtown, they do it on extra shift,” Lovell added.

Metro Police started the wave already with more enforcement on Interstate 40. They plan to hit the biggest problem areas before summer.

“The main thoroughfares, like Lebanon Road, Dickerson Road, Gallatin, 8th Avenue- Wedgewood area– where there’s a big interchange there–people getting off the interstate or on the interstate,” Lovell said.

While it’s both education and enforcement for motorcyclists and vehicle drivers, stats show of the nine motorcycle fatalities in the last year and a half — eight were the motorcycle driver’s fault. 

“As the most recent one on i-24, the motorcyclist failed to maintain the curve, drove off the roadway and into a guard rail,” Lovell explained.

“In any kind of city scenario… you’re the target, so you’re basically taking your life in your hands every time,” Gara said, “But if you love it, you love it.”

THP and police are asking everyone to pay a little more attention on the roads this summer, regardless of their mode of transportation. 

The full list of counties receiving grants are:

  • Metro Nashville Police Department
  • Memphis Police Department
  • Knoxville Police Department
  • Chattanooga Police Department
  • Clarksville Police Department
  • Kingsport Police Department
  • Murfreesboro Police Department
  • Sevier County Sheriff’s Office

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