Combination of Bad Economy, Good Programs Reducing State Highway Deaths

Traffic fatalities are down substantially in Tennessee. In part that’s because the frail economy has people driving less, but a state official says that’s not the whole story.

Last year the number of highway deaths in the state dropped 15 percent. That’s compared to a national average of six percent. Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendall Poole says in part that’s because people are driving about four percent less this year.

But Poole also considers it a testament to the success of various state programs to encourage safer driving.

“We would like to think it’s a combination of education, whether it be the Booze It and Lose It, Click It or Ticket programs, and our grant programs that we fund that go into the schools and into the communities across the state of Tennessee.”

Poole says as 2009 winds down, Tennessee is on track to finish out the year with under a thousand highway deaths. That would be a substantial drop from last year’s total of 1043, which was the lowest number in almost 50 years.

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