Because the goal is saving lives, Tennessee is serious about making its highways and motorists smarter. “Serious,” though, doesn’t mean that teaching highway safety can’t be fun. Consider these dynamic highway sign messages:
Now consider that you – Tennesseans – wrote those messages, which appeared on the state’s 174 dynamic highway signs for a contest last year, including 20-plus signs on Nashville’s roads. The messages here were the top five from the nearly 3,000 submitted by the public. Tennesseans were the judges in the contest, too, with almost 4,000 votes cast on finalists chosen by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The TDOT highway sign contest was so popular that it was resurrected this year for a third run, with submissions accepted online through Feb. 10. Voting begins Feb. 21, and the selection process is expected to end on March 10.
The contest rules are simple, and they are worth repeating because the contest could extend its run into 2018, so start thinking about what you might enter next year.
The safety messages generated by this contest are presented to the public through TDOT’s SmartWay system. SmartWay uses four management centers, including one in Nashville, to oversee 517 cameras, 174 message signs, 1,015 roadway detection systems, and 49 video detection systems. That infrastructure can keep motorists informed on highway incidents, construction, and traffic. Messages on dynamic signs and camera’s-eye views of highways are part of it. Here is a closer look at the SmartWay tools:
The dynamic signs post grim messages, too. In 2012, Tennessee began using them to post traffic fatalities, making it the first state in the nation to do so. Safety was the inspiration, TDOT says:
This decision was made by TDOT officials after seeing a sharp increase in fatalities in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. TDOT hoped by raising the public’s awareness, a positive impact on drivers’ behaviors could reverse the current trend. By the end of 2012, the rate of fatalities had slowed.
Safety is the driving force behind this contest, even if some people submitting messages are more interested in having their words up in lights , literally.
The message themes in the contest highlight critical highway safety issues, as shown by statistics from TDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Seat belts: An estimated 13,941 lives were saved by seat belts in 2015. Yes, almost 89 percent of Americans buckle up, but almost 28 million don’t.
Speeding: Killed 9,262 people on U.S. roads in 2014.
Distracted driving: This can be anything from putting on makeup to texting or tuning a radio while driving, and it killed 3,179 people on U.S. roads in 2014. Davidson County alone had 2,477 distracted driving crashes in 2014.
Impaired driving: Alcohol is a factor in about 1 in 3 traffic deaths in the United States. From 2003 through 2012, drunken driving accidents in Tennessee killed 3,423 people. Impaired driving includes drivers affected by prescription or recreational drugs such as marijuana. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data underscore the extent of that problem:
Aggressive driving: Like distracted driving, this covers a lot of ground. Speeding, for instance, is aggressive driving. NHTSA blames a lot of the increase in aggressive driving on population growth. Whatever the cause, the data on this can raise eyebrows:
Since 1992, the Nashville law firm of Bill Easterly & Associates has built a solid reputation of dealing with personal injury cases, including automobile accidents. Our team knows and loves Nashville and is dedicated to serving communities throughout Tennessee.
Getting the word out about safety and things such as the TDOT highway sign contest is part of what we do because we truly care. We also are prepared to step in when the worst happens and your safety has been compromised.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation and to see how we can help you pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.