Blount, Campbell counties see rise in traffic fatalities, despite Tennessee drop

MARYVILLE (WATE) – Year to date, Tennessee has seen a drop in traffic related fatalities across the state.

Last year at this time, there were 589 traffic fatalities across Tennessee. This year, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said there have only been 535 fatalities.

Knox County has six, Sevier County has three and Anderson County has 10 fewer fatalities than last year. However, East Tennessee counties like Blount and Campbell counties have seen a rise in traffic related fatalities.

In Blount County, a crash on Highway 411 in May 2015 killed six people. THP says that specific crash is what they believe caused a bump in the numbers in that county.

The Alcoa Police Department says in general, the amount of traffic on Alcoa Highway and “The Dragon” are significant contributing factors to the number of fatal accidents they see in their county.

“Alcoa Highway when it was originally designed, they probably didn’t anticipate it would handle the sheer volume of traffic it does in this day and time. And we have thrill seekers who want to test out the Dragon,” explained Capt. David Carswell with the Alcoa Police Department.

With gas prices down right now for example, they’re expecting to see more people driving down Alcoa Highway to the Smokies. They also expect more out of town visitors headed to the Dragon.

“I feel like there’s a heightened sense that you need to be alert while driving over here,” said driver Nicholas Kolinsky in Blount County.

Capt. Carswell says specific points to watch out for on Alcoa Highway are at the intersection of Topside Road, Wright Road and Airbase Road.

“When a call comes out at certain locations, we know that’s going to be a bad accident,” he explained.

He hopes the new statistics in Blount County make drivers more vigilant.

“I hope everyone tries to drive more safely. I hope things like this raise awareness to other drivers,” Kolinsky said.

Capt. Carswell hopes the Alcoa Highway bypass and the Pellissippi Parkway extension in the coming years, reduces the number of fatalities they see.

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