Analysis of 2012 Tennessee motor vehicle accident fatality data has law enforcement officials worried. Since the beginning of the year, more than 330 road deaths have occurred in Tennessee, which represents an increase of 13 percent as compared to the same time last year.

Law enforcement is not certain why fatality rates are so high this year, but many believe that an increase in speeding or drunken driving may be to blame. To help curb traffic deaths, state troopers have resorted to posting current fatality counts on state highways to catch the attention of drivers and hopefully change their driving behaviors.

Historical Causes of Tennessee Traffic Fatalities

Though the reason for the rise in 2012 traffic fatalities has yet to be definitively determined, Tennessee does track the common causes of past motor vehicle accident deaths.

In 2011, there were 158,000 motor vehicle accidents in Tennessee. Nearly 5,000 of them involved alcohol and over 8,000 were caused by speed. During that year, 947 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on Tennessee roads, down from 1,032 in 2010. Of these traffic fatalities, 180 involved senior drivers, 119 involved teen drivers and 114 involved motorcyclists.

Potential Causes of This Year's Fatalities

In their quest to understand why Tennessee traffic deaths are up, law enforcement has focused on three at-risk groups: motorcyclists, drivers who fail to wear seatbelts and male drivers 18 to 34 years of age.

Some believe that the early warm weather may be to blame for the increase in traffic deaths since it caused many motorcyclists hit the road early. Motorcyclists are some of the more vulnerable road users since their vehicles provide less protection to riders than passenger cars and bikers are generally harder to spot on the road. Motorcyclists should take safety courses and wear protective safety equipment when they ride to decrease risk of injury on the road.

On April 6, Tennessee state troopers were told to focus exclusively on seatbelt enforcement for one day. They pulled over a whopping 1,101 vehicles in which the seatbelt law was not being followed. Tennessee requires all vehicle occupants over the age of four to wear seatbelts when the car is in forward motion. Failure to do so is a Class C misdemeanor.

Unfortunately, young male drivers are also at higher risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely than any other age group to drink and drive, fail to wear their seatbelts, and to reoffend after being caught doing either.

When people are injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents, the party at fault for the accident may be held liable for any medical costs or other damages incurred by the victims. Compensation may include funeral costs for a lost loved one or chronic pain care for victims of whiplash caused by a motor vehicle accident. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, please contact an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney to explore your legal actions.


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