NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) will place a trooper every 10-20 miles on all interstates as a part of its Tennessee Interstate Challenge.
The agency launched the challenge Monday morning and they’re encouraging other law enforcement agencies to increase patrols, too.
THP joined multiple law enforcement agencies Monday morning to explain the new safety effort to protect other drivers and pedestrians on the roads.
Last Thanksgiving holiday, there were 511 crashes across the state, with 14 deadly crashes occurring between 6 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving to 5:59 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving. Four of those fatalities were pedestrians, according to THP.
The goal of the Tennessee Interstate Challenge is to help reduce that number and make the roads safer.
“I have challenged every trooper in Tennessee to be out, be visible, stop cars, and do their part to make sure you and your families arrive safely at your destinations to enjoy this holiday season,” Col. Matt Perry with THP said. “Now I’m challenging you, the motorists of Tennessee, those traveling through to see loved ones, I’m challenging you to do your part.”
A new AAA survey found one-in-four Tennesseans who participated admitted to nearly hitting a pedestrian while driving. Nearly 30% of participants said they have not yielded to people crossing the street at least once in the past 12 months. Many pedestrians said it’s acceptable to walk while wearing headphones or using their cell phones.
Law enforcement agencies across the state have asked the public to slow down, put their phones down, buckle up, and pay attention this holiday season.
According to Metro police, there have been 43 critical injury crashes in Nashville so far this year, which is 10 more compared to this time last year. In addition, there have been 102 deadly crashes in the city so far, which is two more compared to this time last year. The main contributing factors were speeding, impairment, and not wearing a seatbelt.
“All these fatality reports we see every day have all of these numbers on them. Those numbers are people. They’re not just numbers, they’re people. They’re people who won’t be at family events this holiday season, and we want to prevent as many fatalities as possible,” said Buddy Lewis, the director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.
In addition to THP’s increased patrols, Metro police will conduct multi-violation enforcement on Black Friday in and around the Tanger Outlets on I-24, Nashville West around I-40, and Opry Mills on Briley Parkway, focused on speeding, reckless driving, and distracted drivers.
“Increased travel and bustling shopping areas pose an additional risk, so let’s prioritize responsible driving, avoid distractions, and mostly be patient,” MNPD Deputy Chief Tommy Widener said. “Let this season be remembered for gratitude and joy and Thanksgiving, and not traffic crashes that result in injuries and death.”
Retired sheriff and current Director of the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association Jeff Bledsoe told reporters Monday sheriff’s departments across the state will focus on patrolling dangerous county roads during the holidays.
“Those roadways, the way they’re designed and the features that are there, without the shoulders and the hills and the curves make it much more dangerous, and we see often throughout our state that that’s the primary focus of our sheriffs, to make the county roads as safe as possible,” Bledsoe said.