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The THP wants zero highway fatalities in Tennessee

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) has a goal. When you think of sports, usually the object is to score as many goals as possible. For the THP, the goal is zero. The zero is the number of fatal traffic accidents that occur on the roads and highways of Tennessee.

Last year was a good year, in the sense that there were fewer highway fatalities than in 2013 or 2012. But that "good" is still heavily qualified, as 967 Tennesseans lost their lives and their families are forced to cope with the aftermath.

Hence the THP's goal of zero. They have many challenges in reaching that goal, but progress has been made. The number of fatalities that occur per vehicle mile traveled has dropped significantly from the 1960s. However, we drive more and there are more residents in Tennessee today, which has kept the totals relatively constant.

The THP credits stricter enforcement of DUI laws, with DUI arrests doubling in recent years. This is in part due to their use of computer software to provide predictive analytics used to direct where troopers should be placed.

They use this for both general patrols and targeted events. So, when you drive from Chattanooga to Knoxville for a UT football game, it is not your imagination if you feel that you are seeing troopers more frequently and in specific locations.

They are also working to combat distracted driving, from whatever cause. They know cellphones and texting is a significant contributor, but everything from applying makeup, eating, shaving and controlling fighting siblings in the backseat can cause a distracted driving accident.

As often happens, when something such as driving behavior is examined closely, many things that may have gone unnoticed are now apparent. Aggressive DUI patrols likely mean some will be stopped who may not be legally impaired. It is important to remember that the THP and local police make mistakes and their judgment is not flawless, and you are always entitled to a zealous defense of any charges you may face.

Theleafchronicle.com, "Tennessee Highway Patrol drives hard to 'zero'," Philip Grey, February 7, 2015

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