Photo Credit: Logo – Tennessee Highway Safety Office / Background – CC
Published April 19, 2021
The Tennessee Highway Safety Office has introduced the “Slow Down Tennessee” campaign to prevent speeding across the state. The campaign started on April 16 and will run through April 30.
Several other agencies are partners in the initiative, including law enforcement, AAA, the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
When the campaign first launched the director of THSO, Buddy Lewis, said, “‘Slow Down Tennessee’ is the collaboration of various public safety partners with a shared mission to improve driver behavior and save lives. We have all noticed the spike in reckless driving occurring since the pandemic. All we ask of the motoring public is to be considerate of other roadway users and obey the traffic laws, so we can all make it home safely.”
By increasing public awareness, it is hoped that “Slow Down Tennessee” can decrease the number of speeding-related injuries and fatalities across the state.
According to a report from Tennessee’s Integrated Traffic Analysis Network, between 2017 and 2019, there were almost 23,000 crashes caused by speeding. Of those crashes, 36 percent were drivers between the ages of 18 and 24.
Gavin Hill, Tennessee’s Regional Manager of SADD, said, “Speeding is a significant problem in our state, and not just with older adults. Young adults and teenagers are engaging in this risky behavior, as well. During the pandemic, many teenagers felt that speeding would not harm them since the roadways were clear. Now with Tennessee cities and towns opening back up, that risky behavior is causing teenagers to get in fatal speeding crashes. That is why SADD is excited to help educate and promote that young drivers need to follow the marked speed limits and slow down.”
With Covid-19 vaccines rolling out, and restrictions being lifted across Tennessee, traffic is expected to pick up, according to Chief Dennis Thomason of the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department.
Thomason said, “Right now, at least in Ooltewah and around the Collegedale area, I see a lot more people on the road than I’ve seen in the last several months. Probably including last summer.”
The first four months of 2021 have seen an uptick in vehicle crashes from this time last year. Thomason has blamed it on the increase in traffic, combined with bad driving habits.
“Don’t be distracted,” he said. “Don’t speed. Pay attention to the traffic lights. I see every day out here, I’ll see at least 10 people run red lights just as I’m moving around on calls.”
Thomason also wants Tennesseans to keep in mind how to react when there are first responders trying to get past.
“If you see us responders, whether it be us, any fire department, ambulance, or police responding, move to the right. Let us get around you. Don’t make us follow you three miles. If you’re in an intersection the best thing to do is just sit where you’re at and we’ll move around you,” he said.
The new campaign will include signs posted across the state, reminding drivers to “Slow Down Tennessee.”