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On behalf of James Logan

Despite fall in fatalities, DUI-related crashes are up in Chattanooga region

Tennessee officials are saying that increased law enforcement efforts have helped drive the state’s traffic fatality rate to one of its lowest levels in decades, according to The Tennessean. Officials say that 961 people were killed last year in car accidents, down from 995 deaths the year before. A greater focus on seat belt use and DUI enforcement has helped drive the fatality statistics downwards. However, while fatalities have also declined in the Chattanooga region, DUI-related accidents themselves are up.

Second-safest year since 1963

Officials say the 961 deaths recorded in 2014 is just the fifth time since 1963 that traffic fatalities have remained under 1,000 and was also the second-lowest number of fatalities recorded since 1963. As a result, 2014 was the third consecutive year that saw traffic fatalities fall in the state.

The decline is largely being attributed to increased law enforcement efforts. Police say they have been cracking down on dangerous driving in the past few years, particularly by increasing the number of failure to wear a seat belt citations they hand out and by targeting drunk drivers. Police are also using new technology to help identify potentially dangerous areas where previous accident data suggests crashes are more likely to occur.

DUI deaths down in Chattanooga

The downward trend was also felt in Chattanooga, where alcohol-related accident fatalities declined 60 percent last year. Troopers there say they have increased DUI arrests by 20 percent and are working closely with bars in the city to ensure that people aren’t driving while impaired. In cases that go to court, the police also note that they have achieved a conviction rate of over 90 percent. In 2014, five people died in DUI-related accidents in Chattanooga.

The news, however, is not all good. In the Chattanooga region as a whole, accidents caused by drugs and alcohol have increased dramatically, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Furthermore, while the five DUI-related deaths recorded in 2014 was an improvement over 2013, when 14 people were killed, it is largely unchanged over a five-year period.

Drunk driving accidents

While Tennessee’s roads overall are getting safer, the threat posed by dangerous drivers remains high, particularly in the Chattanooga area. Reckless driving behaviors, such as drunk driving, remain a threat to countless motorists and their families. When an accident does happen, the victims are often left feeling helpless and confused.

Help is available to such victims, however. A personal injury attorney, for example, can advise accident victims about what their option are. In many cases, concerns about how to pay for medical bills and lost wages will be at the forefront of many victims’ minds, and an experienced attorney can help clients with any claims for compensation they may have following an accident.