The interstate signs that are flashing highway fatality statistics are not just a bunch of meaningless numbers. For the sister of a drunk driving accident victim, those numbers mean a lot. The sister was commuting from Franklin to Nashville when she had to stop at the Harding exit because of a road accident. Her father called to tell her that the accident victim was her sister, whose life had been claimed in an alcohol related accident. The allegedly drunk driver was driving the wrong way and collided head-on with the victim's car. Both cars were mangled from the impact of the collision.
According to police, 1,013 people lost their lives on the highways of Tennessee in 2012, which is 75 more than in 2011. Officials believe that the number of fatalities could have been much higher had people not been made aware of the lives lost by the flash boards. The flash boards have helped to make drivers aware of the seriousness of the problem and how important it is to drive safely. According to officials, it is difficult to prove that the flashing fatality numbers have helped to reduce the number of fatalities; however, the signs remind drivers to slow down, wear seat belts and put down their cell phones. Fatal accidents in Tennessee increased by 64 accidents in the first three months of 2012 over the same time period in 2011. However, after officials posted the signs, fatal accidents leveled off for the rest of the year. Every number that flashes on the sign boards depicts a lost life and a devastated family.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol has tried to curb the growing number of fatalities by cracking down on drivers' negligence conduct, such as speeding and not wearing seatbelts. The idea of using flash boards came up during a brainstorming session. If the signs help in preventing even a single fatality, it is worth the effort. Officials plan to flash the fatality numbers only on Fridays to make people aware of how many deaths can occur in a week's time. Other states have also followed suit in using sign boards for displaying the number of fatal accidents.
Source: wbir.com, "Sister of drunken-driving victim supports TDOT signs," Gail Kerr, Jan. 11, 2013