Tim Wright and Don Lindsey from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Kendall Poole from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office updated the Senate Transportation Committee this week with good news regarding the safety status of Tennessee’s roads. Traffic fatalities have gone down by 33 percent from 2003 to 2013.
A major contributing factor in reducing highway deaths is that 84.8 percent of Tennesseans are wearing safety belts. Over half of those who die due to car crashes in the state do not have on their seat belts.
Traffic deaths last year fell by 2.7 percent, dropping from 1,015 in 2012 to 988 in 2013. Impaired driving fatalities also fell by 26.7 percent from 2010 to 2013, but still account for 24.1 percent of total road fatalities. This is five points under the 2012 statistics.
In addition to unbelted drivers, impaired driving and inexperience are key factors that result in highway-related crashes according to the group. National statistics have revealed that 3 out of 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time or another in their life.
On inexperienced or new drivers, AAA Public Affairs Director Don Lindsey said their organization is conducting a study to show how raising the age of licensure could impact safety. They maintain inexperience and immaturity make for risky driving behavior and increase the likelihood of a crash. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
Tennessee has worked to reduce teen motor vehicle fatalities and injuries through graduated driver’s licensing (GDL). This system limits the exposure to high-risk situations by gradually phasing in driving privileges for teens.