Traffic deaths are decreasing in Chattanooga, increasing across the state
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Already this year more than 700 people have died driving on Tennessee roads. As that number continues to rise, the number of deadly crashes in the Chattanooga area is going down.
A traffic investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department said this isn't a fluke.
"Some would say we're just having a lucky year but I don't believe that, we've focused so hard on this and we see the numbers going down every year because of our efforts," Lt. David Gibb said.
Lt. David Gibb worked 35 fatal crashes last year in Chattanooga. This year, the number is at 14.
But still, more than half of those crashes list drugs and alcohol as a contributing factor.
"You know I wish there was a way where every citizen who drives a car could actually respond to one of these with us and just see it," Lt. Gibb said, "But when you're there you can just feel the devastation because not only can you see it you can smell the fuel burning, the tire rubber burning, and in some cases, the body."
Lt. Gibb said a combination of focused education and a thing called "predictive analysis" is saving lives.
It's taking a look at where fatal crashes are happening and preventing another one from happening at the same spot.
"Really dig into your data and pay attention to it," he said, "It's almost, you can predict where these crashes are going to happen."
Police partner up with other local agencies to help educate young drivers. For Monica Baker at the Chattanooga - Hamilton County Health Department, it's personal.
"I don't want anyone else to have a high school experience like mine," Baker said, "We actually lost someone every year, freshman, sophmore, junior, senior year somebody died in a traffic fatality."
For each driver who makes an educated decision to wear a seatbelt, have a designated driver, or put down the cell phone -- it means a family doesn't have to grieve the loss of a loved one.
"Traffic fatalities are easily preventable," Baker said.
CPD isn't the only local agency seeing a decrease in traffic deaths, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is down 23 traffic deaths in the Chattanooga area compared to last year.
Troopers are also crediting cracking down on enforcement and education for the lower numbers.