Dear Governor: No traffic death rate is acceptable


July 30, 2012

An open letter to Governor Haslam:

The article in today’s Tennessean regarding the horrible rate of traffic deaths among young people in Nashville (and Memphis as well) only served to further highlight the serious problem that we in Tennessee have in terms of traffic safety.

The article in today’s Tennessean regarding the horrible rate of traffic deaths among young people in Nashville (and Memphis as well) only served to further highlight the serious problem that we in Tennessee have in terms of traffic safety. The statistics are plain, and we are among the very worst states in this area (6th worst last I checked). I am sure that you are aware that the traffic accident death rate has jumped this year, reversing a 25-year trend of moving lower.

It has to be frustrating at times to be in government. The difficulty in getting things done in a bureaucratic and increasingly partisan environment must be a constant source of irritation. This issue, however, is one that I believe every Tennessean has a stake in, and furthermore, there are several actions that could be taken to significantly mitigate the problem. For example, our driver testing program is severely lacking, and we license and renew too easily. Our current “no texting” law is very difficult to enforce, and needs strengthening. Our open container law is antiquated and dangerous. We need to speed up the installation of center guard wire systems on all of our interstates and primary highways. Enforcement of our traffic laws is sporadic. The list goes on and on.

I believe it would be a significant and appropriate act of leadership for you to call on our legislature to form a group to take a hard look at all of the issues, and come up with recommendations for making significant improvements in this area.

Young people (as well as others) dying on our roadways is not a partisan issue. While we will never completely eliminate traffic accident deaths, we can significantly reduce them. It’s one thing to talk statistics and essentially determine what an acceptable death rate is. But one question should ring in your ears. What would be the acceptable death rate in your own family? Each of these people who die on our roads has a family and friends, and their individual death has a ripple effect. I know, because my 23-year-old son was killed by a cell phone distracted driver in October of 2009.

hope and trust that it doesn’t take a death in the family of someone in government before we take this seriously.

Thank you for your attention.

 Doug Ralls
Brentwood

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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