News numbers say Shelby County streets are safer for drivers

Newly released numbers, that show the streets of Shelby County are getting safer for drivers, helped the Shelby County Sheriff's Department recently win two national awards and one from the state.

"The traffic bureau is out there everyday in some part of the county, saturating the county," said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell at a ceremony Wednesday.

Officials say those saturations are working.  The new numbers show improvement at some of the county's worst traffic spots during the past year.  Traffic fatalities fell 71%, with six in 2005 compared to 21 in 2004.  The number of traffic crashes with injuries fell 14%, and the number of crashes related to DUI's fell 46%.

Luttrell attributed the falling numbers to added manpower on the streets.  "We have roughly 175 reservists that we use every weekend in some capacity, and often it's in the traffic area," he said.

The department also saw a drop in the number of crashes involving juvenile drivers.

Deputy Beth Graden gets part of the credit for that, as one of many deputies who work with youth, trying to help them make better decisions.

"That one child that you actually make a difference with, you make that connection," she said. "You teach them in a positive direction and they can turn around and teach their friends the same thing."     
Graden said she hopes young drivers who are safe will keep those good habits as they continue down the road of life.