Traffic fatalities up for halfway point of 2017 - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Traffic fatalities up for halfway point of 2017

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A spike in traffic deaths in the first half of this year has Tennessee Highway officials concerned. The Chattanooga area has the second highest fatalities in the state, compared to this time last year.

It's a big difference compared to 2016, the year ended with the fewest number of deaths across the state.

As of July 2017 the Chattanooga area had 65 traffic deaths. That is 13 more than this time last year. Five of those fatalities, happened within the last 8 days.

“The hardest thing a TN State Trooper has to do, or any local law enforcement agency, is go to a family's house and knock on their door, and tell them a loved one just passed away in a motor vehicle crash,” said Lt. John Harmon with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

It is something Lt. Harmon and his crew have had to do 65 times so far this year. “That officer or that trooper cannot prepare themselves to do that. It gets harder than that. When we approach that family member and tell them that they weren't wearing their seat belt.”

It is why he is urging everyone to get back in the habit of driving, and doing nothing else. “Slow down, buckle your seat belt, and put that phone down.”

The reasons vary, texting behind the wheel, speeding, and alcohol use, just to name a few. Lieutenant Harmon said always keep your eyes on the road. “Pay attention while you are driving, visually look at the traffic coming at you.  If you are distracted, you cannot see the person coming at you or where you are going.”

Since July 11th, 10 people have been killed on Tennessee road ways. Lieutenant Harmon said with the summer tourism season in full swing and more drivers on the road, drivers should always keep a watchful eye out. “We need to be on our toes, and we want everyone to arrive alive.”

These numbers reflect the halfway point for 2017.

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