Nashville commuters will have undoubtedly noticed the large digital signs hanging above them at various points on our interstates. The signs, 151 of which are posted on highways across the state, broadcast a variety of messages to drivers, warning them to “Click it or Ticket,” “Booze it and Lose It,” or not text while driving. (A message imploring drivers to keep their eyes on the road, and not on signs above it, does not appear.)
Earlier this year, another bit of information was added to the Digital Messaging Signage — the technical term for the signs, which are funded by the Federal Highway Administration — alerting drivers to the current number of roadway fatalities in the state. (While the signs appear only in urban highway areas, they report every traffic death, whether on a highway or a neighborhood street.) Sadly, from one morning to the next, you are likely to see that number increase.
When The City Paper checked in on the numbers back in June — just about halfway into the year — there had been 425 road fatalities. That number had the state on track to improve on last year’s record low of 947 deaths, and stay on the downward trajectory it has been on for the past seven years, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office.
However, as the end of 2012 approaches, the death toll has reached 1,000 — a tragic milestone to say the least.