Death toll continues to rise on TN roadways - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Death toll continues to rise on TN roadways

(WMC-TV) - As the holidays fast approach and traffic deaths continue to rise, officials at Tennessee Department of Transportation are warning drivers to be more careful.

There were more than 1,000 deaths on Tennessee roadways last year. So far in 2013, 800 people have died. Tennessee Highway Patrol says the months' totals continue to rise and it hopes it is not a sign of what's to come.

There are plenty of signs along Interstate 40, advising drivers of the speed limits... but on one electronic sign is a new message warning drivers that the number of fatalities in Tennessee is on the rise.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation posted the message Friday. And it will stay up through the end of the year, in an effort to remind drivers to put down the distractions and focus on the road.

Distracted driving is something that many drivers are guilty of doing.

"All the time, I'm one to do the same thing because I text a lot when I drive," admitted Janet Striklin.

Sergeant Chris Richardson says Striklin is not alone. He thinks distracted driving plays a role in the increase of fatalities, especially since patrolmen have been cracking down on people not wearing seat belts and those driving under the influence in the last year.

Enforcement in general is up, but drivers continue to get killed.

"It impacts so many lives around you, and we don't want anyone to go through that pain and suffering," said Richardson.

Drivers will continue to see signs as they drive along I-40, promoting a message that law enforcement officials hope will stick.

Tennessee Highway Patrol will also heighten enforcement during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Troopers will be posted every 20 miles along Interstate 40 on Wednesday and Sunday of that week.

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