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Tennessee marks grim milestone in traffic accidents

Tennessee passed a grim milestone on Oct. 17 when the state Department of Transportation noted that 800 people had died on Tennessee roadways so far in 2013. The number means this year is on pace with last year's 1,031 traffic fatalities -- reportedly the highest number of any state in the nation last year.

Officials said that after a relatively low number of traffic fatalities in the first part of this year, the number increased greatly in the past three months.

In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers, the Department of Transportation began putting daily updates of the number of fatalities on highway message signs. Officials said they hoped the postings would remind drivers to slow down and be more careful and hopefully reduce the number of accidents. However, many drivers complained about the reminders, saying that the signs distracted them while driving. This claim was a little dubious -- as one local columnist pointed out, few people complain when highway signs tell them about lane closures or slow traffic ahead. In any case, the Department of Transportation soon abandoned the daily updates.

There was some good news to be had in the latest batch of statistics. The number of drunk driving accidents and alcohol-related traffic deaths on Tennessee roads dropped this year. According to officials, 172 people had died in alcohol-related accidents on Tennessee roads by mid-October, down more than 30 percent from 252 at the same point in 2012. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also said it has made more than 5,000 arrests so far this year for drunk driving or driving under the influence, an increase of 10 percent over last year.

Still, the statistics show far too many accidents on Tennessee roads. People injured when they are hit by a drunk driver are left with enormous medical expenses and other damages. The families of those killed are left without the companionship and income of their loved ones. When these accidents are caused by another driver's negligence, the injured or their families may be compensated for their damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: News Channel 5, "Fatality Count To Be Displayed Daily On Interstate Message Boards," Oct. 17, 2013

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