NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) today announced plans to increase patrols and utilize the "No Refusal" law and a variety of traffic safety enforcement tools to reduce the number of serious injury and fatal crashes across the state during this year's Memorial Day holiday period. The 2015 Memorial Day holiday period will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 22 and conclude at midnight on Monday, May 25.
The 96-hour holiday period will include "No Refusal" enforcement, which allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers, in each of the eight THP Districts. The participating "No Refusal" counties include Anderson (Knoxville District), Grundy (Chattanooga District), Rutherford and Wilson (Nashville District), Shelby (Memphis District), Washington (Fall Branch District), Putnam (Cookeville District), Bedford (Lawrenceburg District), and Henry (Jackson District).
"Memorial Day typically signals the start of summer travel. We intend to aggressively enforce impaired driving and seat belt laws this weekend and throughout the summer months," Colonel Trott said. "We will utilize all of our resources and partner with local and county law enforcement to give us the best opportunity for a safe Memorial Day weekend on Tennessee roadways," he added.
Last year, nine people were killed in vehicular crashes during the 72-hour Memorial Day period. Four of the nine (44%) were not wearing safety restraints and two of the traffic fatalities occurred in an alcohol-related crash. One motorcycle rider was killed and one all-terrain vehicle rider died during last year's Memorial Day holiday.
State troopers arrested 162 individuals on suspicion of DUI and ticketed 2,018 motorists for violation of the seat belt law during last year's Memorial Day holiday.
"Our primary focus is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities across Tennessee," Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. "Currently, 40 percent of the state's traffic fatalities are due to unrestrained seat belt usage. We hope seat belt enforcement will help positively affect driver behaviorand increase voluntary seat belt compliance across the state." Commissioner Gibbons oversees the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, a parent agency to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
In 2014, 312 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Tennessee from the Memorial Day holiday period through the end of the Labor Day holiday period. Of those, 99 vehicular deaths were unrestrained motorists and 93 fatalities were alcohol-related.
The THP will conduct saturation patrols, seat belt and sobriety checkpoints, as well as increased visibility on high-crash corridors throughout the summer to reduce serious injury and fatal crashes across the state.
A list of the locations for the scheduled Memorial Day holiday checkpoints can be found at http://tn.gov/safety/thp/checkpoints.shtml