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Shelby County Again Tops Traffic Deaths in Tennessee

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More people were killed in car accidents in Shelby County last year than any other county in the state, according to newly released data from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released the figures Monday. Officials also offered a call to data and policy experts to help the department understand why national traffic deaths spiked 7.2 percent from 2014 to 2015 to a total of 35,092.

In Shelby County, 120 people died from car accidents last year. That’s up 12 percent from 2014 and is 44 more traffic deaths than in Davidson County last year.

Shelby County has topped this list at least going back as far as 2011. That’s likely given the population size of the county. The county does not crack the top 10 of car fatality rates per capita. (The No. 1 ranking there goes to East Tennessee’s Houston County, which has a population of about 8,500.)

Shelby County’s population is also the likely reason that it has the highest numbers of car deaths involving alcohol (40 in 2015), large trucks (8 in 2015), and speeding (36 in 2015) but rarely ranks in the top by rates of these deaths by population.

But there’s no doubt that traffic deaths are on the rise in Shelby County, according to the DOT data. In 2011, 92 deaths were related to traffic accidents. The number dipped in 2012 but has slowly risen to 120 in 2015.

“The data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” said National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.” 

This map shows the locations for all 2015 traffic deaths in Shelby County for 2015. - US DOT
  • US DOT
  • This map shows the locations for all 2015 traffic deaths in Shelby County for 2015.

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