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Tennessee Car Accident Toll on Roadside Signs Faces Opposition

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently begun using the 151 electrical highway signs in the state to send a message to drivers. The message: people die every day from car accidents. The DOT is sending this message by posting on the sign the total number of traffic fatalities in the state, year-to-date.

Our Knoxville accident lawyers know that there are thousands of people who die on the roads each year and that there are many more who suffer injuries as a result of car wrecks. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t really think about these tragic deaths and may not pause to consider that their driving choices could have very real consequences. By posting the fatality count, the Tennessee DOT hopes to make drivers more aware. However, not everyone agrees with this controversial new effort.

Controversy Over DOT Signs
According to WBIR, there are some people in the state of Tennessee who are complaining that the electronic count of the number of car accident deaths is too gruesome. The electronic signs were traditionally used to announce things like lane blockages, and some do not believe that they should now be used to count up the number killed in traffic collisions.

Others, however, believe that these DOT signs are serving an important purpose and hopefully saving lives. The sister of one drunk driving victim, for example, indicated that she believes that the signs are a reflection of real people who were lost and are more than just statistics. She is an advocate for the signs because they remind drivers of those who have been killed.

Are the Signs Working?
According to WBIR, officials indicated that it is a good thing the signs are drawing so much discussion, even if the talk focuses, in part, on the controversy. Because people are talking about them everywhere, the signs are drawing attention to the high number of car accident deaths in Tennessee and making people think.

The signs may already be having a positive effect on reducing the number of deaths occurring in the state. As WBIR reports, there were 1,013 car accident deaths in Tennessee in 2012. This was 75 people more than the number who died in 2011, which is a huge increase. However, the majority of this increase occurred in the first portion of the year before the signs were put up.

During the first three months of 2012, there were 64 more deaths than during the same period of time in 2011. If the disturbing increase in auto accident deaths continues at this pace for the rest of the year, then it is likely that more than 1,200 people will lose their lives in Tennessee accidents.

After the signs began counting fatalities, however, the number of car accident deaths leveled off. Although this is anecdotal and more studies will need to be done on an ongoing basis to see if the signs are really playing a role in reducing the number of deaths, it is clear that reminding people of the consequences of car accidents cannot hurt efforts to reduce the risks we all face on the road.

If you are involved in a Knoxville traffic accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:
Knoxville Crashes, Distraction, Target of Digital Billboard Ban, Feb. 21, 2013, Knoxville Car Accident Lawyer Blog