The number of people living in Maryville and the rest of East Tennessee continues to rise, and, coupled with lower gas prices and a steady job market, our roads will become busier than ever before. This also means as more drivers hit the road, your chances of being involved in a car accident may increase as well.

In 2014 alone, there were 2,942 traffic accidents in Blount County, which resulted in 23 fatalities. And according to a recent report from the National Safety Council (NSC), motor-vehicle deaths were up 14 percent in first six months of 2015 with nearly 19,000 people killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents between January and June.

What Causes Tennessee Auto Accidents?

The NSC also reports that lower gas prices and a steady job market play a part when it comes to an increased number of car wrecks. This is because when people have jobs, they spend more time on the road driving to work and have more disposable income for running errands or going on vacations.

Distracted driving is another key factor behind auto accidents. AT&T conducted a survey earlier this year that resulted in approximately 70 percent of respondents saying they use their smartphones while driving with 61 percent saying they’ve read, sent, or replied to texts while driving. This information is particularly disturbing considering the fact that the NSC estimates that people who text while driving are eight times more likely to cause car crashes. In fact, distraction was reported in nearly one in five crashes in which someone was injured, and it’s estimated that nine people are killed every day due to distracted driving.

Keeping Our Roads Safe

Knowing these statistics and understanding common causes for car accidents is the first step to preventing future accidents and serious injuries. A great example is the announcement of a national pilot program in an East Tennessee county that could steer how the entire country gets more people to buckle up. Tennessee Highway Patrol announced Hawkins County and Bedford County will serve as test sites for the next year as part of a pilot program with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop best practices to improve safety awareness.

Another way to help keep everyone on the road safe is through continued learning and safety training, such as the Maryville Police Department’s Crash Avoidance Training. This program is designed for teen drivers that focuses on reducing car crashes and provides adolescents with additional driver’s training and education. This is especially important, as most teen crashes are due to inexperience and inadequate skills during emergency situations, and because automobile accidents are the leading cause of deaths and injuries to teens in Tennessee.