NASHVILLE — Tennessee is preparing for a statewide law enforcement initiative dubbed the Tennessee Interstate Challenge.
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long, Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Matt Perry and Tennessee Highway Safety Office Director Buddy Lewis said the event, which is slated to begin on Nov. 23 and run through the weekend, is designed to improve highway safety, according to a news release.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times on Tennessee highways, with drivers traveling near and far.
As part of the event, troopers will be placed on all Tennessee interstates every 10-20 miles, the news release stated. Each sheriff, chief of police, trooper and officer will be issued the friendly Tennessee Interstate Challenge.
A request that every law enforcement agency have a strict tolerance for traffic violations in their areas of jurisdiction was made by Perry, the news release noted. Jurisdictions without an interstate will have increased patrols on all of the secondary roadways across the state.
“This week, many people are traveling across Tennessee to celebrate and give thanks with their loved ones,” Long said. “With the Tennessee Interstate Challenge, we are working to prevent crashes and help everyone get home safely.”
Long said he recognizes that his and other agencies “cannot enforce our way out of traffic incidents, but we are going to do our part to promote highway safety. We are also asking drivers to do their part. Wear your seatbelt and don’t drive distracted or intoxicated. If we work together, we can stop preventable crashes.”
During the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday, THP arrested 89 people for driving under the influence and had worked a total of 511 vehicle crashes. Of those crashes, 14 involved fatalities. Of those deaths, 10 were occupant fatalities, and four people were not wearing a safety restraint. In addition, four pedestrians were killed. Troopers also investigated 36 alcohol-related crashes; THP issued 469 seat belt citations and 2,575 speeding citations. However, these statistics don’t reflect the real-world impact on the families of those deceased.
“The benefits of this traffic enforcement effort from previous years are immeasurable,” Perry said. “For example, we can’t know how many lives were saved because a trooper stopped a speeding, distracted, or impaired driver. What we do know is that when we stop hazardous drivers, it makes an immediate positive impact on traffic safety. One fatality is too many. I feel that the Tennessee Interstate Challenge will be successful in helping us accomplish our goal of no fatal crashes.”
If you or anyone you know require assistance while on a Tennessee highway, please dial *847 (*THP) to be connected to a THP dispatcher. The THP checkpoint schedule for the Thanksgiving holiday may be viewed on the website at www.tn.gov/safety/tnhp/checkpoints.html.
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Erica N. Guy decided to stay in her hometown to begin her professional career in journalism. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree from UAPB, Erica has professionally written for several publications about several topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, culture, and entertainment, just to name a few. Continuing her love for her hometown, she joined our team in June 2023, where she is currently a staff writer. Her career goals include continuing storytelling through her writing by being the best professional writer she can be. In her spare time, Erica enjoys trying new foods, cozying up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, and establishing herself as a future businesswoman.