The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and Tennessee Highway Patrol announced today that there were zero fatalities on Interstate 40 during the “I-40 Challenge” over the Thanksgiving Holiday period.
The challenge took place from noon to midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and again from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Sunday, Dec. 1.
The challenge was issued to seven other state police or highway patrol agencies and consisted of increased patrols along the I-40 corridor over two 12 hour periods on November 27 and December 1 – the busiest travel days during the Thanksgiving period. During those time periods, a Tennessee State Trooper was assigned every 20 miles on Interstate 40.
Law enforcement officials from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, New Mexico State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Arkansas State Police and North Carolina Highway Patrol also participated in the I-40 challenge and reported zero fatalities on the selected interstate in their states during the challenge period. The California Highway Patrol’s figures were not available at press time.
While there were no fatal crashes on Tennessee’s Interstate 40, the state’s Highway Patrol investigated a total of 60 crashes (one alcohol-related), arrested five individuals on suspicion of impaired driving and issued 126 seat belt citations throughout the two 12-hour periods.
During the 102-hour Thanksgiving Holiday period, there were fatal vehicular crashes in Tennessee. Preliminary reports indicate that eight people were killed in five fatal crashes statewide during this year’s Thanksgiving Holiday period. That’s the same number of fatalities reported during the same time period in 2012. All eight occupants killed during the 2013 Thanksgiving Day period were not wearing seat belts. Two of the fatalities were alcohol-related crashes.
Four of the fatalities occurred in Warren County at approximately 1:30 Sunday morning.
Kaimen Collins, Christopher Frazier, Dominique Pinegar and Shanna Seiderer were all seniors at Warren County High.
Investigators said they believe the car they were riding in was going more than 100 miles per hour before it crashed on Highway 108 (Viola Highway.).
The car, a 2013 Camaro, left the road near the entrance to Southside subdivision, uprooting a tree before landing on its top. The car burst into flames. Two of the victims, Seiderer and Frazier were ejected from the car.
“I hope that our agency’s presence on Interstate 40 in Tennessee contributed to the zero traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday challenge periods. However, our presence alone cannot change driver behavior. Motorists must buckle up every time they enter a vehicle and never drink and drive,” THP Colonel Trott said. “We will continue our efforts in the drive toward zero fatalities over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday and throughout 2014,” Trott added.
Colonel Trott was instrumental in organizing the Interstate 40 challenge.