Monday evening, TDOT recorded 928 fatalities on Tennessee roads so far this year.
With the holiday season underway, more drivers are expected on Tennessee roads. In a TDOT campaign to bring more awareness to road safety, SmartWay boards now feature a new message comparing 2012 roadway fatalities to last year.
As of Monday evening, TDOT recorded 928 fatalities on Tennessee roads so far this year. The yearly total for 2011 was just slightly higher, at 937.
"The main thing we're trying to do is create awareness for people," said TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi. "We want people to arrive to their destination... as safe as possible. Unfortunately, the fatality rates have risen this year after we had a few years of a pretty significant decline."
The campaign started in April, and drivers have certainly noticed. At the Pilot gas station along North Broadway in Knoxville, several people said they've been counting, too.
"All the numbers of deaths, last time I [saw] it was 856 deaths? That's a lot for a year's total. That's outrageous!" said Bradley Carter, who says the messages have inspired him and his loved ones to avoid using their phones while driving.
Christy Varner has also watched the numbers climb.
"When you look at it in June and it's not that much. Now, just three to four months later, and it's gone up 200 to 300? That's not good," she said.
"It just scares me to death to think that me and my children... friends and family are out there on road with people who... sometimes don't care, like drunk drivers."
With less than a month before the new year, TDOT expects it will be a challenge to keep the numbers below the 2011 rate.
"You get into December and more people are traveling of course, for the holiday," Nagi said. "And this is also the time when the weather starts to get a little bit worse... we will get the snow and people need to be extra careful on the roads when you have that precipitation."