Department of Transportation Introduces Speed Awareness Initiative To Make Chattanooga Drivers Slow Down

In Collaboration With The Chattanooga Police Department, The Chattanooga Department Of Transportation Has Introduced The Speed Awareness Initiative Aiming To Create Safer Streets.

Chattanooga, Tennessee At Night

Photo Credit: Gerard Noordhuis 

Published February 25, 2021

Chattanooga, TN – In collaboration with the Chattanooga Police Department, the Chattanooga Department of Transportation has introduced the Speed Awareness Initiative. 

During an Agenda Session of the Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday, February 23rd, the Administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Transportation, Blythe Bailey, spoke of the initiative to the Council. 

“We are working collaboratively with the Chattanooga Police Department to identify, using data as well as citizen’s requests, streets that carry a larger volume of traffic that we can focus on either through engineering changes or education to get drivers to slow down,” Bailey said. 

Bailey stated that following the completion of the work, a list of streets will be presented to the Council with recommendations for lowering speed limits. 

“This is what we envision to be a first phase of a citywide program to try to make drivers go slower,” Bailey said. 

District 4 Council Member Darrin Ledford asked, “Will we be able to submit suggestions on roads that we’re familiar with in the Districts that might qualify or be a candidate for lowering the speed limit?” 

Bailey answered, ” Yes, we’ve put together a program that enables citizens and certainly Council representatives as well to help. That’s partly why we created this initiative – to be able to respond to those requests.” 

Bailey stated that for a future round, CDOT would be happy to take Ledford’s input, and that of other Council Members, and analyze those streets. 

Bailey stated that the Department still needs to analyze some more data, which is time-consuming, but that the Department has already completed analysis on a half a dozen streets. 

CDOT will present their analysis, along with an ordinance to the Council in a few weeks. 

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Even with decreased traffic due to COVID-19, in 2020 traffic fatalities across the state “increased nearly 7%, while traffic was down approximately 13% in Tennessee,” according to a statement by Clay Bright, the commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. 

By Thanksgiving, Hamilton County traffic deaths had jumped over 23% from 2018 with the majority of incidents happening within Chattanooga city limits. 

Chattanooga Police Department Spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said, “Speed was a factor in nearly half.” 

In a press release, Lieutenant Danny Jones of the Chattanooga Police Department said that the P.D. takes a “proactive and preventative approach to traffic enforcement by using technology and data analysis along with an increased presence in specific areas.” 

According to Jones, the Chattanooga Police also use historical crash data and focused enforcement efforts in areas where there is a higher tendency for crashes to occur. 

The Chattanooga Police Department reportedly also interacts with community members in pursuing “nonpunitive ways to create a deterrence effect and remind motorists of safe driving behavior.” 

The CPD stated that some drivers engage in speeding without recognizing the risks or considering the consequences.  

This is the behavior the departments are working to change with the Speed Awareness Initiative by executing the following engineering, education, and enforcement measures, which include: 

• Identifying high-risk areas and projects to make improvements. 

• Reviewing traffic control devices to improve the visibility and clarity of the messaging. 

• Reviewing street lighting at each location. 

• Providing drivers with information about travel speeds and safety issues associated with speeding. 

• Increasing drivers’ awareness of enforcement efforts designed to address speeding. 

• Equipping some marked police vehicles with moving radar units to determine that drivers of motor vehicles are complying with the legal posted speed limit. 

“We should do everything possible to assure that all Chattanoogans can move around on our streets both comfortably and safely,” said Bailey. 

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