Now that we are a few weeks into 2016, we'll slowly start to see more agencies at both the state and federal level issuing reports outlining their preliminary findings for 2015 and measuring year-to-year performance.
By way of illustration, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced its preliminary findings last week concerning the number of traffic fatalities in the state in 2015. Once again, the results were encouraging.
What did the report have to say regarding traffic fatalities?
According to the report, state law enforcement agencies reported 965 traffic fatalities on state roadways in 2015 -- including 10 cyclists and 112 pedestrians -- to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
How do these numbers compare to prior years?
While the findings are still preliminary, the 965 traffic fatalities are the third lowest annual total in the state since 1963, and well below the 1,234 traffic fatalities averaged in the Volunteer State from 1964 to 2010.
Indeed, the report notes that the last five years have seen an average of 971 traffic fatalities and, even more impressive, these five years comprise five of the six years with the lowest total traffic deaths in the state since 1963.
What has the state been doing in recent years to keep the number of traffic deaths lower?
According to the report, much of 2015's numbers can be attributed to an ongoing commitment on the part of law enforcement officials to crack down on the deadly trifecta of drunk driving, distracted driving and failure to wear seat belts.
For example, the report notes that state troopers issued 114,047 citations for failures to wear a seat belt in 2015, and that there was an accompanying 3 percent drop in traffic fatalities involving failures to buckle up compared to 2014. Similarly, it goes on to state that troopers made 7,805 DUI arrests in 2015, and that there was an accompanying 20.9 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalitiescompared to 2014.
While it's certainly heartening to see our roads and highways continuing to get safer, the numbers nevertheless show that there are still many reckless drivers out there. As such, it's important for anyone whose life has been irreversibly altered by their actions to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.