The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has planned a series of roadblocks around the region this weekend. In anticipation of a busy travel weekend, the THP says it is ramping up its enforcement effort with increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints for the 2011 Easter Holiday period, beginning 12 a.m. Thursday, April 21 and concluding at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 24. Sobriety checkpoints will be set up along Highway 70 in both Cumberland and Smith counties Friday night. And troopers will also be checking driver license compliance at checkpoints throughout the Cookeville district.
“This weekend marks the unofficial start to the most active travel season in the United States,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “As the summer months approach, our Highway Patrol will be diligent in promoting safe driving campaigns and keeping Tennessee roads and its travelers safe.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated 32,788 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010, a decline of about three percent from 2009 (33,808 fatalities). Tennessee fatalities increased to 1,033 in 2010, or 4.8 percent from 2009 (986 fatalities). As of April 20, 2011, there have been 216 motor vehicle traffic fatalities, compared to 296 at this time last year.
“Our troopers are committed to holiday enforcements and safe driving campaigns throughout the year,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “While we never want to see any fatalities on Tennessee roadways, we are encouraged by the decline and hope to report a record low number of traffic deaths by the end of the year.”
Just four months into the year, preliminary statistics indicate that 17 motorcyclists have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of 14 deaths compared to 31 motorcycle fatalities at this same time a year ago. Also, rural traffic fatalities have decreased by 23.7 percent and unrestrained vehicle occupant fatalities have declined by 25.8 percent. Ten people were killed in eight crashes on Tennessee roads during the 2010 Easter Holiday weekend. Last year, alcohol was involved in two of the fatal crashes, and 75 percent of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
“We hope people make smart decisions this Easter weekend,” Colonel Trott added. “Don’t drink and drive, wear your seat belts, and pay attention to the road. Our goal is for everyone to reach their destination safely.”