The number of summer traffic fatalities in Tennessee this year is higher than last year, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety.
Between June and August of this year, 293 people have died in motor vehicle accidents, compared to 283 in that same time span in 2017.
Captain R.C. Christian oversees the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He said the increase in fatalities does not surprise him.
“In many ways it doesn’t, because you’ve got to consider this is the prime time [to travel],” Christian said. “We constantly have people going on vacation, it’s a very active time, and you’ve got to be mindful of the area that we live in. There’s a lot of recreational activities that take place in our area and that’s one of the reasons I’m confident that we see that increase.”
Christian said a rise in motorcycle crashes and fatalities in the region may play into the state’s numbers as well.
“We have had a couple of those… I know for a fact this summer alone, we’ve probably had about four fatalities involving motorcycles, and in various areas as well,” Christian said. “In very remote areas, we’ve had motorcycle crashes. We’re trying to be mindful of this and try and educate the public of what they need to do and don’t need to do.”
Christian said an increased presence of THP troopers on roadways will help in reducing traffic fatalities.
“Hopefully by deploying and just constantly being aware of what’s going on, we can be mindful and effect that,” Christian said. “Hopefully we can make reductions in those areas.”
Despite the summer increase, Tennessee has seen a decrease in the total number of fatalities in 2018 at 665, compared to 693 at the end of August 2017. In the Upper Cumberland, fatalities are also down for the year, with 44 occurring in 2018 compared to 56 through August 2017.