When you're talking about the annual number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee, the magic number is 1000.
For most of the past 60 years, the yearly total of deaths on Tennessee roads has hovered somewhere above the 1000 mark, reaching a record of 1444 in 1973.
In 2009, that number dipped below 1000. With 986 deaths recorded that year, it marked the first time fatalities had dipped below the 1000 mark since 1963. In 2011, it fell below 1000 again (937), and highway safety officials hoped they were looking at an encouraging new trend.
But last year, traffic deaths rebounded after a particularly deadly Spring. By the end of the year, 1014 people had died in accidents on Tennessee roads. If statistics released by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are any indication, this year will bear a similar result. At 800, the number of fatalities so far in 2013 is equal to the number of deaths recorded on the same date in 2012.
“While we made great progress in the first six months of 2013, compared to last year,” said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons in a statement issued today, “the last three months have been very deadly on Tennessee roads.”
The state will continue to display daily fatality statistics on TDOT’s electronic roadway signs, a strategy initiated last year when 2012's increase in deaths became apparent.
Officials are encouraged, however, in this year’s decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths. That number has dropped nearly 32% when compared to last year’s total on this date. In all, alcohol-related crashes are down approximately 11% from last year.