Commissioner Jeff Long of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSOHS) and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Dereck R. Stewart joined multiple law enforcement partners to announce the seventh annual "I-40 Challenge" traffic safety initiative. "The I-40 Challenge" or "CARE across Tennessee" will consist of increased patrols from state police/ highway patrols as well as local agencies along the I-40 corridor nationwide.
In Tennessee, I-40 enforcement will increase on the busiest travel days during the Thanksgiving holiday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has extended the challenge to our partnering agencies across the nation to make I-40 safer over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Tennessee Highway Patrol will assign Troopers every 20 miles on Interstate 40 for 12-hour shifts on the busiest travel days of the weekend: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 from 10AM to 10PM and Sunday, December 1, 2019 from 10AM to 10PM.
"The loss of life is never easy, especially when that loss could have been avoided," Colonel Dereck R. Stewart said. "The pain remains for a lifetime. That is why I am making a commitment to increase our trooper presence not only on the I-40 corridor, but on all major Tennessee roadways. We encourage the public to make safe choices when traveling on our Tennessee roadways. Stay off your phone and don't drive distracted, wear your seatbelt, and do not drive impaired."
I-40 runs 2,555 miles through eight states including North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. I-40 runs through Tennessee encompassing 455 miles.
In 2018, there were 46 crashes on the Wednesday before and 55 crashes on the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday on I-40. One crash was alcohol-related. During the holiday 120-hour holiday period, THP also issued 1,559 seat belt/child restraint device citations and arrested 111 individuals for impaired driving statewide. THP will continue state-wide enforcement on all Tennessee roadways during the holiday season.
"I applaud Colonel Stewart for continuing this unique enforcement effort that reaches coast to coast," said Commissioner Jeff Long. "It challenges not only the Tennessee Highway Patrol, but other state highway patrols to keep our interstates safe. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on everything we have been blessed with. We will do everything in our power to ensure that there's not an empty seat at your family's dinner table this year."
"TDOT is proud to partner with the Tennessee Highway Patrol on this important effort to save lives on what can unfortunately be a tragic period on our highways," Commissioner Clay Bright said. "Drivers will see this message on our overhead signs along the I-40 corridor and we ask them to reduce their speeds, limit distractions inside their vehicles, and arrange for a sober ride when necessary."
"The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) supports THP's I-40 Challenge campaign to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities," said THSO Director Buddy Lewis. "We encourage drivers to slow down, buckle up, and never drive distracted. Our goal is to ensure everyone makes it home safely this holiday season."
During your travels across Tennessee, if you require highway assistance please dial *847 (*THP). This will connect you to a THP dispatcher.