Local News

Story published: 07-31-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Auto fatalities in county due largely to no seatbelts

By: David Walter

Freelance Writer

As of late July, the total year-to-date number of fatal car crashes in Johnson County is up to three. Two of the three were on July 10 in completely unrelated accidents. The common factor is that according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol the victims were not wearing seatbelts. The only ones to survive these crashes were wearing theirs. These are above average statistics for Johnson County and prompted a call to The Tomahawk from the state highway patrol. With five months left in 2013, there is a high likelihood Johnson County will see record-breaking numbers of unrestrained fatalities in car accidents. Officer Jonathan Street and fellow troopers expressed concern for these numbers and offered their assistance in making citizens more aware of motorist safety issues, particularly the use of seatbelts.

Officer Street was incredibly adamant as to his role in enforcing the laws aimed at protecting citizens and ensuring their safety. “What people don’t realize is that the solution is so easy,” said Street. “We see so many crashes where if people had just worn their seatbelt and been restrained, they would have been fine. It’s a simple click to save lives and prevent severe injuries. We just want people to know is that the public safety. We aren’t going to be happy until no one has lost their life on our roads. That’s the real reason we are out here - to protect the community; to protect our families and yours.”

In 2012, there were two fatalities where the absence of a seatbelt was a contributing factor in the death. In 2011, there were three fatalities where one victim was not wearing a seatbelt. It is common knowledge that wearing a seatbelt greatly increases the chances of surviving a serious car accident or avoiding brutal and life-altering injuries. Regardless of this fact, people continue to consciously avoid using them. In 2011, there were 14 accidents in Johnson County with unrestrained motorists and 19 in 2012. So far this year, there have already been 14 county accidents without seatbelts. The total number of seatbelt citations in 2011 was 216 and 345 in 2012. As of last Wednesday, the number of citations for Johnson County for this year was at 135.

Compared to the other 94 counties in the state, Johnson County has a relatively high crash rate. Looking at the Tennessee State Highway Patrol data from 2008 through 2012, it indicates that with per capita averages, Johnson County ranks number eight in motorcycle crashes. Johnson County also ranks 29 for overall crashes and 31 for both youth driver and senior driver crash rates. While the county is currently exceeding its average for fatalities, that statistic currently ranks at number 70.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.