New stats on vehicle crashes in Tennessee and Georgia

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) – Vehicle crashes involving unrestrained motorist and passengers are increasing in both Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia.

Georgia and Tennessee state law enforcement officials confirmed the statistics during a major press conference at Erlanger Medical Center.

"We’ve seen a spike in crashes. Interstates have seen a 22-percent increase in crashes this year," said one Georgia State Trooper.

Within the 12-county Chattanooga district for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the numbers are considered disturbing.

Since 2012, more than 1,100 unrestrained people have been injured in crashes. 142 of those cases resulted in death. Hamilton County had the highest unrestrained fatalities with 33.

Since January of this year, 86-unrestrained motorists and passengers were injured in crashes. 28-of those injures happened in Hamilton County. But those numbers mainly account for adults.

"We still see kids in our trauma unit that weren’t restrained properly or weren’t restrained at all," Erlanger Trauma Surgeon Dr. Lisa Smith.

Georgia had nine straight years of reduced road fatalities. But this year, numbers have spiked.

"This year, we’re up almost 20-percent in the first quarter and it’s troubling," said Georgia Governor Highway Safety Representative Harris Blackwood.

A great majority of those fatalities involve teenage drivers.

"We’ve buried too many of most valuable resources; our children. And many times they’ve done that because they were not wearing their seat belt," Blackwood said.

Attending the press conference was crash survivor Johnny Minman. He told WDEF that when he was 16, he was transported to Erlanger and actually pronounced dead after his vehicle flipped over a bridge.

"The steering wheel was probably about six inches from my chest when I wrecked. So flipping over a 30-foot bridge and having the steering wheel come in that close; had I not been wearing my sea belt, it would have crushed my insides," Minman said.

He also believes that had he not been wearing his seat belt, he might not be here to day to tell his story.

Categories: Local News

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