The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently started posting fatality counts on message boards that sit over interstates. As motorists drive under them, it may make them think about how to avoid serious crashes, such as by slowing down and paying more attention. At least, that’s what transportation officials are hoping.

It’s the most recent tactic being used to decrease fatal accidents. Unfortunately, fatal car accidents are on the rise in the state. At this point last year, there had been 477 fatalities on Tennessee roads. So far this year there are already 508 and counting.

In one recent weekend alone, 15 people were killed in accidents. Transportation officials are definitely concerned in the recent rash of accidents, as well as the overall increase in fatalities this year.

As traffic deaths tend to decrease year-to-year in the U.S., it’s a bit puzzling why Tennessee isn’t following that trend. Part of the problem may be the spike in motorcycle accidents. The state recently logged the 75th motorcyclist death this year.

It’s hoped that the signs and similar measures will help drivers slow down and take a look at what’s happening. Since the fatalities tallies have been implemented, the increase has, well, decreased. When the TDOT began posting the numbers in April, there had been a 13 percent year-to-year increase in accidents. That number has since fallen to just over 6 percent, so it’s possible that the signs are having the intended effect.

Source: The Tennessean, “Tennessee road deaths surpass 500,” Nicole Young, July 7, 2012