TN highway message boards to show rising tally of roadway deaths - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

TN highway message boards to display rising tally of roadway deaths

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

State officials say Tennessee is losing in the battle against deadly traffic accidents.

Even after raising awareness and stepping up enforcement, just as many people have died on Tennessee roads in 2013 as compared to this time last year.

So the Tennessee Department of Transportation is trying something different with its highway message boards.

They will now be updated every day to reflect how many people have been killed on Tennessee roads this year.

Previously, the numbers were only updated every Friday.

"The more that citizens are aware of the number of traffic fatalities in our state, the more citizens are going to think about their own behavior, the behavior of family members and adjust that behavior in order to increase safety on our streets and highways," said Bill Gibbons, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

So far, 800 people have lost their lives in Tennessee crashes this year.

Officials say the good news is drinking and driving and seat belt violations are starting to make up a smaller portion of traffic deaths.

However, distracted driving from using cell phones and other devices is on the rise.

"If they text and drive, if they drink and drive, if they don't wear their seat belts, if they drive impaired, there's a chance they won't be here come the end of this year. There's a chance they won't be able to be with their families at Thanksgiving and Christmas," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that's why its troopers will be stepping up enforcement heading into the holidays.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, troopers will be positioned every 20 miles along Interstate 40.

They've also spread the word to local police departments to have zero tolerance for high-risk drivers.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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