In 2012, according to recently released preliminary numbers, there was an 8.8 percent increase in the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents on Tennessee roadways. Within this preliminary data there was an increase in teen and motorcycle fatalities. Drunk driving and not wearing a seat belt also continued to be areas of concern.
According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Governor's Highway Safety Office, there were 1,019 traffic-related deaths. These numbers included pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents and passenger vehicle accidents.
In looking at the 8.8 percent increase, keep in mind that 2011 was a record-low year in terms of fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2011, 937 people were killed. This was the lowest number in 48 years and officials knew it would be hard to duplicate another record-breaking year in 2012.
In terms of areas of concern, 24.1 percent of all of the fatal crashes in Tennessee last year were alcohol related. Granted, there was a 31.8 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatal crashes from 2007 to 2011, but last year there were still 246 people killed in crashes.
Alcohol also reportedly played a rather large role in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2012. Overall, year-over-year there was a 21.1 percent increase in the number of motorcyclists killed. Of the 138 motorcyclists killed, 20.3 percent were in some way alcohol-related.
Outside of alcohol, distracted driving also continued to be a factor in a number of fatal crashes. According to the director for the Governor's Highway Safety Office, distracted driving played the largest role among teen drivers. There was also a roughly 10 percent increase in the number of teens killed in traffic-related accidents last year.
Looking forward to 2013, law enforcement plans on continuing with targeted enforcements, such as seat belt saturations and sobriety checkpoints. The hope is this will lead to a decrease in fatal car accidents throughout Tennessee.