State, region see dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State, region see dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities

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(WRCB) -- Preliminary numbers from the Governor's Highway Safety Office shows that Tennessee had the fewest number of traffic fatalities in 49 years this past year. All told, 947 people lost their lives on Tennessee roadways in 2011, 84 fewer than the year before.

Even more promising, some surrounding counties have seen some dramatic decreases in traffic related fatalities as well, according to the Clint Shrum from the Governor's Highway Safety Office.

Hamilton County had 34 people perish in accidents, a decrease of eight fatalities from 2010 and the lowest number of deaths in 17 years.

Bradley County had the fewest fatalities in three years, Meigs County in five years, and Sequatchie County in six years. McMinn County saw the third largest decrease in the state, down nine fatalities from 20 this time last year.

State officials believe the decrease in fatalities is a combination of stricter enforcement for DUI, increase used of seatbelts, new laws that restrict texting while driving, and overall more aggressive enforcement of traffic laws.

Even so, officials say lack of seatbelt use is still a major contributor in traffic fatalities, with fully 56 percent of deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts.

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