published Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Tennessee traffic deaths on the rise

The count for Tennessee traffic deaths reached 1,000 before noon Friday. At noon, the count jumped to 1,002, on the Interstate 24, westbound sign at the Fourth Avenue entrance ramp.
The count for Tennessee traffic deaths reached 1,000 before noon Friday. At noon, the count jumped to 1,002, on the Interstate 24, westbound sign at the Fourth Avenue entrance ramp.
Photo by Tim Barber.

2012 TRAFFIC DEATHS IN THE REGION

As of midnight Friday, 132 people had died in the 12-county Chattanooga district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 2012. That's 16 more than in 2011, THP Lt. John Harmon said. Here's a comparison of 2011 and 2012 fatalities from the highway patrol.

COUNTY // 2011 // 2012

Bledsoe // 3 // 4

Bradley // 11 // 24

Coffee // // 16 // 12

Franklin // 2 // 12

Grundy // 10 // 4

Hamilton // 36 // 30

Marion // 12 // 9

McMinn // 11 // 14

Meigs // // 1 // 7

Polk // // 5 // 7

Rhea // // 5 // 7

Sequatchie // 4 // 2

HOLIDAY CHECKPOINTS

• Driver's license checkpoint tonight at 20th Street between Willow and Kelly streets

• Sobriety checkpoint at Lindberg Avenue at Rossville Boulevard tonight

• Driver's license checkpoint at Bonny Oaks at the soccer field Monday

• Sobriety checkpoint in the 1300 block of Hixson Pike late Tuesday

With statewide traffic fatalities on the rise compared with the same time last year, Friday marked the first day of a five-day enforcement campaign by the Tennessee Highway Patrol leading up to New Year's Day.

"Every available trooper will work the next five days. You will see a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper at some point or go through a checkpoint," said THP Lt. John Harmon, referring to the 11 checkpoints scheduled over the holiday in the Chattanooga district. "The goal is for everyone to celebrate the New Year safely."

As of Thursday, Tennessee had counted 1,000 traffic fatalities, compared with 937 in 2011. Of those deaths, 238 were alcohol related, according to the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security. There were five traffic fatalities in the state over the 2012 New Year holiday period, Harmon said.

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

The latest traffic death is 23-year-old Jordan Julian, who was killed early Friday morning in Hixson. She drove off the road and into a tree at 1400 Lower Mill Road and died at the scene, according to Chattanooga police. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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.

He said three officers are joining the unit, and all will have a zero-tolerance approach in issuing citations.

"I tell them if [drivers are] breaking the law, write them," he said.

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