$800,000 grant received by THP to combat crashes

By | January 11, 2018 6:26 am

Tennessee Highway Patrol was recently awarded significant grant funding from the Federal Highway Administration aimed at reducing crashes across Tennessee, including in the Upper Cumberland. (Photo By BOBBY MCCULLEY).

Thanks to new federal funding, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, with help from local law enforcement agencies across Tennessee, hopes to combat and reduce crashes, in 2018.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recently received traffic safety grant funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide increased enforcement and public awareness campaigns in an effort to reduce serious injuries and fatal crashes on state roadways. The grant funds will be distributed by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office throughout the state, with several different campaigns.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be focused this year on targeting seat belt usage. The THP “BELTS” program will provide funding to allow state troopers to enhance the existing seat belt usage rate of 88.5 percent. Statistical data indicate that unrestrained fatalities are most likely to occur on Fridays and Saturdays, in Tennessee.

With $100,000 earmarked for the “BELTS” program, in 2018, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s goals this year include:

-Conducting monthly seat belt checkpoints in each of the eight THP Districts, which includes the Upper Cumberland (Cookeville) district

-Each district will participate in the 12 statewide seat belt blitzes currently scheduled

-Through enforcement of seatbelt laws, reducing the number of unrestrained drivers in fatal and injury crashes by 5 percent

-Increasing the seat belt usage rate in the Upper Cumberland by 2.5 percent

The THP will also be starting a new-distracted driving campaign this year called “Just Drive.” With the addition of new communications technologies, drivers are paying less attention when driving, according to state traffic experts.

Distracted driving is more than just texting while driving. Distracted driving is any activity or action that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.

Goals of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s “Just Drive” program include:

-Reducing injury crashes where distracted driving was indicated as a contributing factor

-Reducing fatal crashes where distracted driving was indicated as a contributing factor

-Reducing the total number of crashes where distracted driving and other hazardous moving violations were noted as a contributing factor

The THP “Just Drive” received approximately $100,000 federal grant funds for 2018.

Additionally, the THP “Sober Up TN” campaign has also received additional federal funding for 2018. This campaign allows the THP to allocate additional hours for state troopers to patrol the interstates, conduct sobriety checkpoints, perform bar checks, and educate the public on the dangers of drinking and driving.

State troopers utilize a data-driven approach to address alcohol-related crashes by targeting times and locations where these types of incidents are most prevalent. Predictive analytics have allowed the THP to target impaired driving crashes. Most of these crashes occur between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m. A higher rate of alcohol-related wrecks is shown to occur on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol “Sober Up TN” program goals include:

-Increasing the number of sobriety checkpoints

-Enforcing DUI and alcohol-related offenses

-Reducing fatalities where alcohol was indicated as a contributing factor

-Facilitating community meetings to solicit citizen attendance and input and involve local agencies, district attorney generals, school and court officials, and associated stakeholders.

The THP “Sober Up TN” grant funds that were provided to the agency this year amount to approximately $600,000. The grant programs will run through Sept. 30, 2018.

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