2015 was a safe year for Tennessee residents. The number of traffic deaths dropped to the third lowest annual number since 1963. These numbers were reported to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by all law enforcement agencies across the state.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that of 965 deaths, 112 were pedestrians and 10 were cyclists. Between 1961 and 2010, there were an average 1,234 traffic fatalities per year. However, since 2011 Tennessee has had five of the six lowest rates of traffic fatalities since 1963, with an average of 971 deaths per year over the last five-year period. 1973 was the worst year on record in this timeframe, with a whopping 1,444 traffic deaths.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol attributes this to their focus on enforcing seat belt, distracted driving and DUI laws. In fact, troopers made 7,805 DUI arrests in 2015 and issued 114,047 seat belt citations. Tennessee also had a 20.9 percent decrease in alcohol related traffic fatalities.

While this is good news for Tennesseans, statistics for the overall nation did not fare as well. After years of steady decline, the rate of traffic deaths rose in the first half of 2015 by 8 percent, according to NBC News. Numerous factors may be at play with respect to this reported increase. Lower gas prices and an improving economy resulted in more drivers on the road in 2015. At the same time, distracted driving, including texting while driving and falling asleep at the wheel, have become more prevalent. Regardless of where, drivers willl be safer if people stop using their phones while driving, don't drink and drive and always wear their seat belts.


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