MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the first three months of 2022, there have been more than 8,500 crashes in Shelby County, and the county is leading the state with the highest number of fatal crashes.
According to the data from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, an average of five people are dying every seven days on Shelby County roadways.
Through April, the Memphis Police Department partnered with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to promote safe driving. For two weeks, highway message boards on I-240 showed drivers how many people were dying in car crashes in Shelby County.
Memphis Police Colonel Keith Watson said he hopes the numbers get the message across.
"We are seeing speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving and they are all leading to crash incidents on the roadway," Watson said.
As of this time last year, 44 drivers died in Shelby County and that number was surpassed in February. Drivers who have taken I-240 at least twice in the last week would've seen numbers jump from 62 to 66 deaths so far this year.
"It's not ok to operate a motor vehicle distracted. It's not ok to operate a vehicle in some state of impairment," Watson said.
Watson said the message board serves as a reminder that these numbers have names, they have family members, and they lost their lives to careless driving.
"It's affecting more than just that one single motor vehicle operator if a bad choice or a bad decision is made at the wrong time," Watson said.
According to data from the state's highway patrol, these are currently crash hotspots in the county:
- Overton Crossing St. and North Hollywood street each have had six deadly crashes so far this year.
- Six people have also died on I-240.
- And on State Rd. 14, there have been five deadly crashes so far this year.
To combat this issue, MPD said drivers can expect to see heavy police presence in crash-hot zones. They are encouraging the community to call the police immediately if they see reckless driving.
Last month, Bill lee promised 20 more state troopers for our interstates, to help combat reckless driving, but the District Four Tennessee Highway Patrol told ABC24 that it could take years until the county sees additional troopers.
A spokesperson said that not only are they having staffing issues, but the hiring and training process can take up to a year since they can't hire and train year-round.