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Around 1,280 fatal car crashes reported in Tennessee so far this year, up from 2020

Knoxville police said drivers forget to do something straightforward after getting in their vehicle — putting on a seatbelt.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hopping a car and going for a drive may not sound like the most exciting part of the day. However, transportation officials said that risky driving is making this boring part of the day more dangerous. 

In 2021, data collected by the Tennessee Highway Patrol shows 1,280 fatal crashes across the state. In 2020, that number was much lower at 1,160 crashes.

THP said that since March of 2020, around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have seen an uptick in risky behavior on the road.

“That includes impaired driving, includes speeding, specifically super speeding,” said Sergent Andy Clendenen with THP. 

Just this week, the Knoxville Police Department reported a deadly crash on I-40 east at McMillan Road. It was not the first major accident in Knoxville this year

“We've had 42 people killed on the roadways in the City of Knoxville, which as far as we can tell, that's our highest total ever — going back to at least 2002,” said Scott Erland at KPD. 

In Tennessee, the number of fatal crashes has increased significantly and law enforcement said they identified several causes.

Knoxville police said that drivers are frequently forgetting to do something basic when they get in their cars — putting on a seatbelt. 

“I know that's a cliche, but we remind people that, 'Hey, it doesn't take any time to put on a seatbelt and make sure you're wearing that seat belt before you get behind the wheel,'” said Erland.

Research shows that seatbelts continue to save lives, as long as people put them on before getting on the road.

Authorities say they also tend to notice faster drivers and more traffic during holidays. There will be increased law enforcement on Tennessee's roads during Christmas to keep everyone safe. 

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