NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling highway deaths a national crisis. The number of people killed on the roads continued to rise across the country for much of 2022, with a slight decline between April and June.

Lieutenant Bill Miller with the Tennessee Highway Patrol said while this year’s numbers for Tennessee show an improvement, he’s hoping they drop even further.

“We’re at about 4,500 crashes across Tennessee, and out of those 4500, we’re at 927 people killed. We’re still knocking on door of 1,000 people, and we’re not accepting that,” Miller said. “We need to get these traffic numbers lower, these fatalities lower, and get down to zero traffic fatalities. That’s the only number that is good to us.”

According to Lt. Miller, there are four main factors in most traffic crashes.

“Your top four are speeding, distracted driving, impairment, and drivers not wearing seatbelts. And it’s not necessarily in that actual order. But those are your top four contributing factors to crashes.”

Empty roads during the pandemic led to more super speeders than ever before. Unfortunately, as traffic returned, accidents caused by speeding increased. 

“The speeds that we’re seeing involved in these crashes are, oh, my goodness, they’re, they’re horrendous. You know, the damage that’s caused, the carnage that’s caused is definitely contributed to speed,” said Lt. Miller.

THP has taken steps to address this increase in traffic deaths.

“We have been very proactive across the state, with our messaging with our communication, communicating directly to the public as far as what they can do to help us to reduce traffic fatalities and injury crashes across the board in Tennessee.”

While they are currently recruiting state troopers, Lt. Miller said changes in driver behavior will be a determining factor.

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“There are not enough law enforcement officers in Tennessee to be able to fully address this issue. And they’re just, they’re just never will be. And it all comes down to driver behavior.”

Those who are interested in applying to become a state trooper can find more information here.