1000 deaths on Tennessee roadways

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers are disappointed by the number of deaths on the roads this year.

The digital billboards show the state lost 1,000 people in motor vehicle crashes, up nearly a hundred from last year.

40% of the people killed weren't wearing their seatbelts. Now troopers are reminding people to buckle up.

"You improve your chances of surviving just by fastening your seatbelts," said Lt. Don Boshears from the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Remember New Year's Eve is a "No Refusal Weekend" which means you can't refuse a sobriety test because a judge can order your blood taken.

Traffic fatalities in East Tennessee, across state up compared with 2011

Staff and wire reports knoxnews.com

According to the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the state had 1002 fatalities for 2012 as of Friday, compared with 933 at this time last year.

Of this year's fatalities, 114 involved a teen driver, compared with 116 last year, 187 involved a driver age 65 or older, compared with 176 last year, and 137 involved motorcyclists, compared with 114 last year, state figures show.

Alcohol has played a part in 238 traffic deaths this year so far, according to the department.

March, May, June and August have been the heaviest months for fatalities, accounting for 404 deaths. The months also represent some of the busiest for travel in Tennessee.

In Knox County, according to the state, fatalities are slightly down so far. Fifty-one people have died compared with 53 last year. Deaths are up sharply, however, in Anderson, Blount, Campbell and Sevier counties this year.

Among 11 Knoxville area counties included in the state's District 1 designation, fatalities are at 158, compared with 145 for 2011.

In other East Tennessee counties, deaths are up markedly in Cocke, Sullivan and Jefferson counties, figures show.

Last week, three people were killed in a fiery collision Christmas Eve on Gen. Carl Stiner Highway in LaFollette, and a 22-year-old Knoxville man died in a head-on crash on Delrose Avenue.

Chattanooga has had more traffic deaths this year, 22 as of Friday afternoon, compared with 19 in 2011.

Chattanooga traffic Sgt. David Gibb, who conducted a 10-year review of fatalities in the city, said 34 percent were alcohol related. He said his unit plans to increase traffic enforcement in 2013 in hopes of reducing traffic-related deaths by 20 percent. The unit will focus on speed, aggressive driving and impaired driving, he said.

"I'm trying to take a proactive approach to fatalities," Gibb said.