The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Thursday announced preliminary figures indicating the state recorded 988 traffic fatalities in 2013.
That’s a 2.7-percent decrease in vehicular deaths on Tennessee roadways last year compared to 2012, when there were 1,015 traffic fatalities. The 2013 traffic fatality numbers include vehicular deaths reported by all Tennessee law enforcement agencies.
Last year’s preliminary number of 988 traffic-related deaths in Tennessee represents just the fourth time in 50 years vehicular fatalities have dropped below 1,000. In 2011, there were 937 traffic-related deaths on Tennessee roadways, representing the lowest figure since 1963.
“The decline in the number of traffic fatalities in 2013 indicates that Tennessee is moving in the right direction. Our focus on data driven deployment of state troopers to have the maximum impact on DUI and seat belt enforcement is paying off. We have much more work to do, though,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.
Impaired driving fatalities fell 26.7 percent from 2010 to 2013 in Tennessee. In 2013, preliminary statistics indicate 211 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes across the state (24.1 percent of the total). Tennessee state troopers increased their number of DUI arrests in 2013 to 6,428, a 90.4 percent increase over 2010.
Additionally, Tennessee state troopers issued 74,277 seat belt and child restraint device citations in 2013, a 135.1 percent increase from the 31,599 citations issued in 2010. In Tennessee, unrestrained motorists accounted for 48.9 percent (364) of vehicle occupants killed in 2013.
Other contributing factors in fatal crashes included speed and distracted driving, with 184 and 167 deaths, respectively.
Of concern is the fact that pedestrian fatalities have increased by 25 percent over the past year from 68 in 2012 to 85 in 2013.
“In 2014, we will employ a predictive analytics model to look even more closely at where traffic crashes are most likely to occur and deploy our resources, both in educational efforts and enforcement. We hope that this new tool will help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes across the state,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott said.
Preliminary statistics indicate one person has died on Tennessee roadways in 2014, compared to eight at this time last year.