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Tennessee Traffic Fatalities: Beware Travelers

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I attended a wedding in downtown Nashville. We took I-65 to get there. You know those signs they have over highways these days? The ones that tell you travel times to certain exits or warn of accidents or delays up ahead? I guess they’re called electronic billboards.

I had noticed one on I-24 shortly before Memorial Day weekend on my way to a volleyball game. It said something about Tennessee traffic fatalities for the year were 300 and something. (I don’t recall the exact number anymore. I want to say it was like 371.)

At any rate, I thought, “No way. Over three hundred people have died on the roads so far? That seems pretty high. And how come we’re not hearing more about that?”

Then, just a few days later, there I was reading with another sign asking motorists not to text and drive, not to drink and drive, and to please drive safely, “distracted driving is dangerous driving.” Then it flashed the  traffic fatalities number. It was up another four or five deaths.

It was only a matter of days since I’d seen the first sign. Maybe I hadn’t remembered the number right? Maybe it hadn’t grown?

Nope. When we headed to Memphis in early June, the traffic fatalities in Tennessee had topped over 400.

Just a few days ago I passed another sign. It was up to 462. (As of this writing, I think it’s currently at 473.)

That is terrifying. I know from all the ambulance chaser commercials on TV that Tennessee, Nashville in particular, is bad for tractor-trailer/car accidents. We’re kind of a hub Interstate-wise here for commercial vehicles to go through.

Big rigs with smaller vehicles make a bad combo anyway. Especially when people don’t pay attention like they should, don’t leave enough distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, and in general think they’re invincible behind a wheel. Add in cell phones, drugs or alcohol and whoa. Bad, bad, bad things happen.

But is this a higher than normal traffic fatalities year here in Tennessee?

It’s higher. I found a Tennessee Traffic Fatalities – Daily Report YTD doc online. Traffic deaths are up.

Then I found an article from May about how Tennessee traffic deaths are up dramatically in 2012.

So, it’s not a figment of my imagination. The numbers are climbing.

And have I already noted they’re frightening?

But Tennessee isn’t the only place they’re on the rise. 2012 traffic fatalities are also a concern in KY too.

They might also be up in other places. Whether you’re coming through Tennessee or not, if you’re planning on hitting the road for your summer vacation, please be careful out there. I was always taught it’s better to be a defensive driver than a dead one.


What can you do to increase your survival rate when behind the wheel?

  1. Wear your seat belt.
  2. Don’t drink and drive.
  3. Don’t drive under the influence of drugs. (This doesn’t just mean illegal drugs. Prescription drugs that can impair your judgment too.)
  4. Don’t drive tired.
  5. Definitely don’t text and drive, but avoiding all cell phone use is even better.
  6. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. At least four car lengths when going 60 mph. People forget how much stopping and reaction time you really need.
  7. Report bad drivers to local authorities.


Want to check traffic fatalities in your state? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  has a map you can click on to see the State Traffic Safety Information For Year 2010. (I tried to find a more recent one, but didn’t have much luck.)

The NHTSA’s FARS Data Tables summarizes all kinds of info, such as different times of day when crashes occur, weather conditions, types of vehicles involved in crashes, demographics of those involved, etc. (The one I saw was only through 2009 though.)

Also interesting to note is there are over 30,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year. I don’t know how accurate it is, but Wikipedia has a table listing traffic-related death rates by country. Guess who’s one of the countries in the lead? (One list the U.S. should not be proud to be near the top of.)

What’s your biggest bad driver pet peeve? I can’t stand aggressive drivers or tailgaters. Both cause accidents, and both have caused me to get in accidents.

Also feel free to share any safe driving tips you live by.


Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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4 thoughts on “Tennessee Traffic Fatalities: Beware Travelers

  1. My pet peeve in the last couple years is impatient drivers who seem to think the road belongs to them and the rest of us are just borrowing it from them, and we’re misusing it at that.

    My Dad is a courteous driver and other drivers behind him will fly right up to his bumper and lay on their horns if he slows to let a car out that’s trying to get out of a parking lot, or heck, when he’s not taking a turn fast enough for the guy behind him, and it’s not like he’s taking too much time as far as I’ve seen– he’s simply driving safely. There is absolutely no reason to try to scare the bejeezes out of another driver who is obeying the traffic rules and driving in a safe and courteous manner.

    My added tip: If you’ve got to be somewhere at a certain time, leave early enough to account for possible traffic delays (road construction, accidents, whatever). It’s okay to arrive at your destination a little early and in one piece. And if you couldn’t leave plenty early and traffic slows down and causes you to be a few minutes late, well then don’t stress over it and start driving aggressively, putting yourself and others in danger. It is what it is. Being a few minutes late arriving somewhere *usually* isn’t a huge deal and certainly isn’t the end of the world.

  2. O…M…G, Kimberley! Have you heard me talk about that same pet peeve at all? My office in our house faces the road. The one coming into our subdivision, which is like 2 houses from the main road we all turn off of to get in here. I can’t tell you how many times a day some yahoo blows his horn because he’s mad someone had to break to turn in here. ‘Effin’ rude idiots!!!! And your opening line? Perfect. YES! OMG! Totally live that on a daily basis and it makes me CRAZY MAD! Also, loved your tip. AMEN!!!!! Wish more people would actually do it though. 🙁

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