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Transportation Performance Management

 

State Highway Safety Report (2019) - Tennessee

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The following provides a summary of the Highway Safety Improvement Program’s (HSIP) safety performance measures and State safety performance targets. As per the Safety PM Final Rule, States are required to set annual safety performance targets in the HSIP annual report for the number of fatalities, rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), number of serious injuries, rate of serious injures per 100 million VMT, and number of non-motorized fatalities and serious injuries. The safety performance targets are based on 5-year rolling averages. States have the flexibility to use the methodology they deem most appropriate. FHWA encourages States to review data sets and trends and consider factors that may affect targets. The safety performance targets should be data-driven, realistic, and attainable and should align with the performance management framework and legislative intent.

A State Department of Transportation (DOT) has met or made significant progress towards meeting its safety performance targets when at least four of the five safety performance targets established under 23 CFR 490.209(a) have been met or the actual outcome is better than the baseline performance. The baseline performance is the 5-year average ending with the year prior to the establishment of the target.

The Basis for Target and Additional Comments are provided by the State in their HSIP Annual Report and have not been edited by FHWA. Any questions about individual State reports should be directed to the respective State DOT. For additional information about each State's HSIP, the complete reports are available at https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/reports/.

  • Number of Fatalities

  • Number of Fatalities 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Annual 995 963 962 1,037 1,024 1,040 1,135
    5-Year Average 996.2 1,005.2 1,039.6
    Target (5-Year Average) 1,022.0 1,043.4 1,078.8
  • Basis for Number of Fatalities Target

    • Fatality numbers have been relatively stable from 2016 to 2017 after a large increase from 2015 to 2016
    • Numbers from January 1 thru end of May (6/5/18) are showing decline from this time last year; it is still early in the calendar year but early numbers are a positive sign
    • Safety projects continue to be implemented, however, there is a lag between the time safety projects are implemented to completion and additional time needed for those projects to then have an impact on results
    • One year of low fatalities (963 in 2014) drops from target
    • “Optimistic but cautious” approach was agreed upon after assessing data and factors
    • The current moving average target is higher than 2014-2018 target by 0.06% but projects decreases in fatalities over the next two years
    • Target is based on slight decreases in fatalities for the next two years (0.7% for 2018 and 0.5% for 2019).
    The number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee has been over 1,000 since 2016 with current YTD fatalities as of May 1, 2019 showing an increase of 22 fatalities over the same date in 2018. This may be due to factors such as the continued rise in Tennessee’s population. It is estimated that population grew by 0.91% in the Volunteer State from 2017 to 2018. While this is a slight decrease from the population growth Tennessee experienced from 2016-2017 (0.96%), Tennessee’s growing economy, popularity as a tourist destination, and low fuel prices make it likely that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will continue to increase. As VMT increases, the opportunity for vehicle crashes to occur also rises.

    The number of work zones is expected to remain high due to a state funding increase (IMPROVE Act) which occurred in 2017 and which also requires TDOT to complete 962 projects over an unspecified period of time. Some of these projects include safety improvements, however, there is a lag between the time safety projects are implemented to completion and additional time needed for those projects to then have an impact on results.

    One year of low fatalities (962 in 2015) will drop from the target period but will remain in the baseline period, keeping the baseline lower than the projected moving average. As previously stated, the number of fatalities has been over 1,000 during each of the 3 years of available data included in this target setting cycle (2016-2018).

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. In addition to implementing the Highway Safety Manual, utilizing predictive analysis to provide further enforcement at high crash locations, and providing various training programs, a bill banning handheld cell phones or standalone electronic devices took effect on July 1, 2019. This bill also requires the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to include distracted driving as part of the information presented in driver education training.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of FHWA, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process. The other 7 MPO's were invited to the process of determining the targets.

    Leadership approved a target of 1043.4 for the 2016-2020 target setting performance cycle. This target assumes that the number of fatalities for 2019 and 2020 will increase by 1% each year. This coincides with the population increase Tennessee has experienced in 2018 as well as the identified increase in VMT expected over the next two years.

    Additional factors provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and which may contribute to fatality numbers in Tennessee include geography, tourism, and freight. Tennessee is bordered by 8 other states and has 42 of 95 counties bordering another state. This may draw non-residents from out of state which could contribute to volume and safety due to varying laws and traffic operations between states. Tourism is Tennessee’s 2nd largest industry. Special events such as the NFL draft, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Bristol races, and Memphis in May Barbecue Festival contribute to the number of tourists visiting the state. According to Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, there were a recorded
    113.6 Million person stays in 2017.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.
    The number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee for 2019 remained high marking the 4th consecutive year of 1,000 fatalities or more. Current YTD fatalities as of May 20, 2020 show no change over the same date in 2019.(1) This stable performance occurred despite drastic reductions in traffic volumes caused by school closures, workforce closures and shifts, and a Safer at Home order issued by the governor to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This order was in effect from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020 though many businesses chose to close or have employees work from home prior to that date and many have elected to extend those conditions beyond the expiration of the order.

    Generally, as travel increases, so do the chances of drivers being involved in crashes. Factors contributing to increased travel typically include population increases, travel related to tourist activities, low fuel prices, and a good economy. While Tennessee’s population continued to rise (0.85% from 2018 to 2019)(2) and fuel prices are low, the abrupt shutdown of Tennessee’s economy has significantly impacted traffic volumes in the Volunteer state with volumes reduced as much as 60% in some areas after the Safer at Home order was put into effect.

    A state funding increase (IMPROVE Act) occurred in 2017 and requires TDOT to complete 962 projects over an unspecified period of time. However, declines in fuel tax revenue may slow the ability for the state to complete projects. Bloomberg(3) reports that state transportation departments are expecting a 30% decline in fuel tax revenues over the next 18 months. Some of the IMPROVE Act projects include safety improvements, however, there is a lag between the time safety projects are implemented to completion and additional time needed for those projects to then have an impact on results.

    One year of low fatalities (962 in 2015) will drop from the target period but will remain in the baseline period, keeping the baseline lower than the projected moving average. As previously stated, the number of fatalities has been over 1,000 during each of the 3 years of available data included in this target setting cycle (2017-2019)(4).Additional factors provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and which may contribute to fatality numbers in Tennessee include geography, tourism, and freight. While tourism is Tennessee’s 2nd largest industry, it is theorized that travel to the Volunteer State will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as evidenced by Nashville having cancelled 835 conventions and approximately 26M people cancelling trips to Music City through the end of 2020(5).

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. In addition to implementing the Highway Safety Manual, utilizing predictive analysis to provide further enforcement at high crash locations, and providing various training programs, a bill banning handheld cell phones or standalone electronic devices took effect on July 1, 2019. This bill also requires the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to include distracted driving as part of the information presented in driver education training. Additionally, Tennessee’s Calendar Year 2019 seatbelt usage rate (91.75%) was higher than the national average (90.7%)6. This marks the second year Tennessee’s usage rate surpassed 90 percent.

    TDOT has also been updating the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan during the current performance cycle. Once implemented, strategies identified in the update plan should help to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

    The Data as defined by Final Safety Performance Measure Rule Subpart A, General Information 490.101 Definitions: Target means a quantifiable level of performance or condition, expressed as a value for the measure, to be achieved within a time period by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

    Driven Safety Analysis implementation plan was developed to quantify the effectiveness of safety countermeasures used in TDOT processes using the Highway Safety Manual.

    Targeted enforcement campaigns, such as Operation Hands Free, are being conducted around the state. Some Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are using crash and speed data to identify areas for increased enforcement activities.

    TDOT and TN’s MPOs are consistently working to improve safety through projects. These projects include intersection improvements, retro-reflective sign projects, and bicycle/pedestrian safety improvements. The Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency is working develop a methodology for analyzing 2016- 2020 crash data by contributing factors that may be related to infrastructure. Development of this methodology should help to identify projects that will improve safety.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of Federal Highway, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, Bristol Urban Area MPO, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process.

    Leadership approved a target of 1,078.8 for the 2017-2021 target setting performance cycle. This target is consistent with the 3-year linear trend line and assumes that the number of fatalities for both 2020 and 2021 will decrease by approximately 37 from the 2019 total.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    REFERENCES

    1 Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, TITAN Division, (2020). “Tennessee Traffic Fatalities Daily Report.” [Data set]. Available: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/safety/documents/daily_05202020.pdf
    2 Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Tennessee State Data Center. “2019 Population Estimates Show Continued Growth in Tennessee, Southeastern States,” [Online]. Available: https://tnsdc.utk.edu/2019/12/31/2019- population-estimates-show-continued-growth-in-tennessee-southeastern-states/
    3 Beene, Ryan. (April 15, 2020). America’s Empty Roads: Fewer Deaths but a Blow to State Budgets. Bloomberg. [Online]. Available: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-15/america-s-empty-roads-fewer-deaths-but-a-blow-to- state-budgets
    4 Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, TITAN Division, (2020). “Tennessee Traffic Fatalities Historical Report 2015-2019.” [Data set]. Available: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/safety/documents/dailyfatality2019.pdf
    5 Abell, AJ. May 1, 2020. Nashville Tourism Hit Hard: 4th of July Likely Off, 835 Conventions Canceled. WZTV [Online]. Available: https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-tourism-hit-hard-4th-of-july-likely-off-835-conventions-canceled
    6 Tennessee Highway Safety Office (January 21, 2020). Tennessee’s Seat Belt Usage Rate Reached 81.75 Percent in 2019. [Online]. Available: https://tntrafficsafety.org/tennessee%E2%80%99s-seat-belt-usage-rate-reached-9175-percent-2019

  • Data Sources:
    Fatalities: 2013-2018 Final FARS, 2019 FARS Annual Report File
    Targets: 2018-2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Reports

  • Fatality Rate (per 100 million VMT)

  • Fatality Rate
    (per 100 million VMT)
    2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Annual 1.40 1.33 1.25 1.35 1.24 1.28 1.37
    5-Year Average 1.314 1.290 1.298
    Target (5-Year Average) 1.291 1.256 1.355
  • Basis for Fatality Rate Target

    • 2017 VMT number was calculated using FHWA Office of Highway Policy (OHPI) monthly travel trends volumes
    • VMT trends over time showed an average increase of around 1.1%
    • Anticipated continued growth in population and travel in state
    • Fatality rate target assumes a 1% increase in VMT per year for both 2018 and 2019 and is calculated using projected fatalities for 2018 and 2019 in accordance with fatality number target.
    It is estimated that population grew by 0.91% in the Volunteer State from 2017 to 2018. While this is a slight decrease from the population growth Tennessee experienced from 2016-2017 (0.96%), Tennessee’s growing economy, popularity as a tourist destination, and low fuel prices make it likely that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will continue to increase.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS), Tennessee Division Office of FHWA, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process. The other 7 MPO's were invited to the process of determining the targets.

    Published VMT from Federal Highway’s Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) were used for calendar years 2017 and prior. TDOT’s Long Range Planning Division estimates calendar year 2018 VMT at 84,761 million miles. This estimate represents the VMT amount TDOT intends to submit to the Highway Performance and Monitoring System as of May 2, 2019. (Note: Additional information regarding VMT has caused an update to the amount used to identify baselines and targets. Because it is anticipated that these numbers will continue to change until TDOT is evaluated by FHWA, no updates have been made to the agreed upon 2014-2018 baseline or 2016-2020 target.)

    Based upon the increase in population and Tennessee’s healthy economy, the team determined a 1% increase in VMT during 2019 and again in 2020 would be the minimum likely increase. Once the VMT estimate for calendar year 2018 and percentage of VMT increase were agreed upon, the rate was then calculated using the 1,043.4 fatality number target to obtain the 1.256 target for the 2016-2020 target setting performance cycle.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    Generally, as the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increases, the opportunity for severe vehicle crashes to occur also rises. Factors contributing to increases in VMT include population growth, low fuel prices, and a healthy economy. Since March, Tennessee has seen drastic reductions in traffic volumes caused by school and business closures, shift to remote work, and a Safer at Home order issued by the governor to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This order was in effect from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020 though many businesses chose to close or have employees work from home prior to that date and many have elected to extend those conditions beyond the expiration of the order. While Tennessee’s population continued to rise (0.85% from 2018 to 2019) (1) and fuel prices are low, the abrupt shutdown of Tennessee’s economy hassignificantly impacted traffic volumes in the Volunteer state with volumes reduced as much as 60% in some areas after the Safer at Home order was put into effect.

    It is possible that a long-term reduction in VMT may be experienced as the state encounters an economic downturn. The Safety Working Group theorized that some employers are likely not to return to a normal office setting if telework performance has effectively provided continuity of services. Tennessee’s second largest industry is tourism and, according to one report, Nashville has already cancelled 835 conventions with approximately 26M people cancelling trips through the end of 2020 (2). Finally, there are conflicting views that a second wave of the pandemic may occur later in the fall which would likely reduce traffic again.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of Federal Highway, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, Bristol Urban Area MPO, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process.

    Published VMT from Federal Highway’s Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) Highway Statistics Series Table VM-2 (3) were used for calendar years 2018 and prior. TDOT’s Long Range Planning Division estimates calendar year 2019 VMT at 82,892 million miles. This estimate represents the preliminary VMT amount TDOT submitted to the Highway Performance and Monitoring System as of May 18, 2019. (Note: Because it is anticipated that VMT numbers will continue to change until published by FHWA, no updates have been made to the agreed upon 2015-2019 baseline.)

    Based upon the uncertainty of travel patterns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team reviewed travel data available for March, April and early May and considered several scenarios before opting to take a conservative approach for identifying the fatality rate target. The team estimates Tennessee will have declines in normal traffic as follows: 40% in March and April 2020, 20% in May, 10% in June, and will hold at 5% below normal traffic for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. (VMT for 2021 was estimated using an average of VMT from 2018, 2019, and projected 2020 values). Once the VMT estimates for calendar years 2020 and 2021 were agreed upon, the rate was then calculated using the 1,078.8 fatality number target to obtain the
    1.355 target for the 2017-2021 target setting performance cycle.

    As defined by Final Safety Performance Measure Rule Subpart A, General Information 490.101 Definitions: Target means a quantifiable level of performance or condition, expressed as a value for the measure, to be achieved within a time period by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    REFERENCES

    1 Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Tennessee State Data Center. “2019 Population Estimates Show Continued Growth in Tennessee, Southeastern States,” [Online]. Available: https://tnsdc.utk.edu/2019/12/31/2019- population-estimates-show-continued-growth-in-tennessee-southeastern-states/
    2 Abell, AJ. May 1, 2020. Nashville Tourism Hit Hard: 4th of July Likely Off, 835 Conventions Canceled. WZTV [Online]. Available: https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-tourism-hit-hard-4th-of-july-likely-off-835-conventions-canceled
    3 Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Policy Information, 2013-2018, State Tables Vehicle-miles of travel, by functional system, [Online]. Available: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics.cfm

  • Data Sources:
    Fatalities: 2013-2018 Final FARS, 2019 FARS Annual Report File
    VMT: 2013-2019 FHWA Highway Statistics Series, VM-2 Table
    Targets: 2018-2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Reports

  • Number of Serious Injuries

  • Number of Serious Injuries 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Annual 6,925 6,868 7,613 7,595 7,126 5,742 5,553
    5-Year Average 7,225.4 6,988.8 6,725.8
    Target (5-Year Average) 7,374.6 6,352.4 6,227.1
  • Basis for Number of Serious Injuries Target

    • The average rate of change for serious injuries is 1.3% (over past five year period)
    • The actual serious injury number decreased from 2016 to 2017
    • Terminology on crash reports which law enforcement officers complete has changed (definition is the same but the terminology has shifted) from “incapacitating injury” to “suspected serious injury” in December 2017. It is unclear what impact this may have on serious injuries reported.
    • Reviewed 4-year and 5-year linear trend lines which did not necessarily have a good fit but did indicate five year average will continue to increase
    • The serious injury number target is based on an average rate of change of 1.3% per year from the 2017 actual number (1.3% increase in 2018 and a 1.3% increase again in 2019).
    A large decrease in serious injuries occurred in Tennessee from CY 2017 to CY 2018. In compliance with the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Safety Performance Management Measures Final Rule (23 CFR 490), Tennessee revised the crash report December 2017 to reflect the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria Fourth Edition (MMUCC 4th edition) "Suspected Serious Injury (A)" attribute found in the "Injury Status" element. All states were required to comply with the new definition by April 15, 2019. Though Tennessee has been experiencing a decrease in serious injuries over the past couple of years, the
    drastic decrease in serious injuries in 2018 is likely an effect of updating the crash report to meet FHWA’s requirement.

    Tennessee continues to experience an increase to population. It is estimated that population grew by 0.91% in the Volunteer State from 2017 to 2018. While this is a slight decrease from the population growth Tennessee experienced from 2016-2017 (0.96%), Tennessee’s growing economy, popularity as a tourist destination, and low fuel prices make it likely that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will continue to increase. As VMT increases, the opportunity for vehicle crashes to occur also rises.

    The number of work zones is expected to remain high due to a state funding increase (IMPROVE Act) which occurred in 2017 and which also requires TDOT to complete 962 projects over an unspecified period of time. Some of these projects include safety improvements, however, there is a lag between the time safety projects are implemented to completion and additional time needed for those projects to then have an impact on results.

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. In addition to implementing the Highway Safety Manual, utilizing predictive analysis to provide further enforcement at high crash locations, and providing various training programs, a bill banning handheld cell phones or standalone electronic devices took effect on July 1, 2019. This bill also requires the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to include distracted driving as part of the information presented in driver education training. Additionally, Tennessee’s Calendar Year 2018 seatbelt usage rate (90.9%) was higher than the national average (89.6%). This marks the first year Tennessee’s usage rate surpassed 90 percent.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of FHWA, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process. The other 7 MPO's were invited to the process of determining the targets.

    The working group has selected a target of 6,352.4 for the 2016-2020 target setting performance cycle. This target assumes that the number of serious injuries for 2019 and 2020 will decrease by 1.1% each year. This percentage represents the average rate of change in serious injury numbers from 2013-2017. Calendar year 2018 was not included in the average rate of change since it was unclear if this large decrease was due primarily to the terminology change or other factors.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce serious injuries on our roadways. As such, these targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.
    Tennessee has been experiencing a decrease in serious injuries since 2015. A 19% decrease in serious injuries occurred in Tennessee from CY 2017 to CY 2018. In compliance with the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Safety Performance Management Measures Final Rule (23 CFR 490), Tennessee revised the crash report in December 2017 to reflect the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria Fourth Edition (MMUCC 4th edition) "Suspected Serious Injury (A)" attribute found in the "Injury Status" element. All states were required to comply with the new definition by April 15, 2019. While it is thought that the drastic decrease in serious injuries in 2018 is likely an effect of updating the crash report to meet FHWA’s requirement, the number of serious injuries continued to decrease from 2018 to 2019 by 3%.

    Generally, as travel increases, so do the chances of drivers being involved in crashes. Factors contributing to increased travel typically include population increases, travel related to tourist activities, low fuel prices, and a good economy. While Tennessee’s population continued to rise (0.85% from 2018 to 2019) (1) and fuel prices are low, the abrupt shutdown of Tennessee’s economy has significantly impacted traffic volumes in the Volunteer state with volumes reduced as much as 60% in some areas after the Safer at Home order was put into effect.

    A state funding increase (IMPROVE Act) occurred in 2017 and requires TDOT to complete 962 projects over an unspecified period of time. However, declines in fuel tax revenue may slow the ability for the state to complete projects. Bloomberg(2) reports that state transportation departments are expecting a 30% decline in fuel tax revenues over the next 18 months. Some of these projects include safety improvements, however, there is a lag between the time safety projects are implemented to completion and additional time needed for those projects to then have an impact on results.

    Additional factors provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and which may contribute to fatality numbers in Tennessee include geography, tourism, and freight. Tennessee is bordered by 8 other states and has 42 of 95 counties bordering another state. This may draw non-residents from out of state which could contribute to safety issues due to varying laws and traffic operations between states. While tourism is Tennessee’s 2nd largest industry, it is theorized that travel to the Volunteer State will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as evidenced by Nashville having cancelled 835 conventions and approximately 26M people cancelling trips to Music City through the end of 2020.(3)

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. In addition to implementing the Highway Safety Manual, utilizing predictive analysis to provide further enforcement at high crash locations, and providing various training programs, a bill banning handheld cell phones or standalone electronic devices took effect on July 1, 2019. This bill also requires the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to include distracted driving as part of the information presented in driver education training. Additionally, Tennessee’s Calendar Year 2019 seatbelt usage rate (91.75%) was higher than the national average (90.7%). (4) This marks the second year Tennessee’s usage rate surpassed 90 percent.

    TDOT has also been updating the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan during the current performance cycle. Once implemented, strategies identified in the update plan should help to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The Data Driven Safety Analysis implementation plan was developed to quantify the effectiveness of safety countermeasures used in TDOT processes using the Highway Safety Manual.

    As defined by Final Safety Performance Measure Rule Subpart A, General Information 490.101 Definitions: Target means a quantifiable level of performance or condition, expressed as a value for the measure, to be achieved within a time period by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

    Targeted enforcement campaigns, such as Operation Hands Free, are being conducted around the state. Some Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are using crash and speed data to identify areas for increased enforcement activities.

    As Weigh In Motion expands in Tennessee, the number of large trucks entering and exiting traffic near weigh stations will be reduced.

    TDOT and TN’s MPOs are consistently working to improve safety through projects. These projects include intersection improvements, retro-reflective sign projects, and bicycle/pedestrian safety improvements. The Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency is working develop a methodology for analyzing 2016- 2020 crash data by contributing factors that may be related to infrastructure. Development of this methodology should help to identify projects that will improve safety.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of Federal Highway, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, Bristol Urban Area MPO, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process.

    The working group selected a target of 6,227.1 for the 2017-2021 target setting performance cycle. This target conforms to the 3-year linear trend line with a coefficient of determination value of 0.9992. The target is lower than the estimated baseline (2015-2019) identified for the current performance period.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce serious injuries on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    REFERENCES

    1 Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Tennessee State Data Center. “2019 Population Estimates Show Continued Growth in Tennessee, Southeastern States,” [Online]. Available: https://tnsdc.utk.edu/2019/12/31/2019- population-estimates-show-continued-growth-in-tennessee-southeastern-states/
    2 Beene, Ryan. (April 15, 2020). America’s Empty Roads: Fewer Deaths But a Blow to State Budgets. Bloomberg. [Online]. Available: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-15/america-s-empty-roads-fewer-deaths-but-a-blow-to- state-budgets
    3 Abell, AJ. May 1, 2020. Nashville Tourism Hit Hard: 4th of July Likely Off, 835 Conventions Canceled. WZTV [Online]. Available: https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-tourism-hit-hard-4th-of-july-likely-off-835-conventions-canceled
    4 Tennessee Highway Safety Office. “Tennessee’s Seat Belt Usage Rate Reached 91.75 Percent in 2019,” [Online]. Available: https://tntrafficsafety.org/tennessee%E2%80%99s-seat-belt-usage-rate-reached-9175-percent-2019

  • Data Sources:
    Serious Injuries: 2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Report
    Targets: 2018-2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Reports

  • Rate of Serious Injuries (per 100 million VMT)

  • Rate of Serious Injuries
    (per 100 million VMT)
    2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Annual 9.74 9.49 9.93 9.88 8.66 7.06 6.70
    5-Year Average 9.540 9.004 8.446
    Target (5-Year Average) 9.324 7.690 8.394
  • Basis for Serious Injury Rate Target

    2017 VMT number was calculated using FHWA Office of Highway Policy (OHPI) monthly travel trends volumes
    • VMT trends over time showed an average increase of around 1.1%
    • Anticipated continued growth in population and travel in state
    • Serious Injury rate target assumes a 1% increase in VMT per year for both 2018 and 2019 and is calculated using projected serious injuries for 2018 and 2019 in accordance with fatality number target.
    It is estimated that population grew by 0.91% in the Volunteer State from 2017 to 2018. While this is a slight decrease from the population growth Tennessee experienced from 2016-2017 (0.96%), Tennessee’s growing economy, popularity as a tourist destination, and low fuel prices make it likely that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will continue to increase.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS), Tennessee Division Office of FHWA, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process. The other 7 MPO's were invited to the process of determining the targets.

    Published VMT from Federal Highway’s Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) were used for calendar years 2017 and prior. TDOT’s Long Range Planning Division estimates calendar year 2018 VMT at 84,761 million miles. This estimate represents the VMT amount TDOT intends to submit to the Highway Performance and Monitoring System as of May 2, 2019. (Note: Additional information regarding VMT has caused an update to the amount used to identify baselines and targets. Because it is anticipated that these numbers will continue to change until TDOT is evaluated by FHWA, no updates have been made to the agreed upon 2014-2018 baseline or 2016-2020 target.)

    Based upon the increase in population and Tennessee’s healthy economy, the team determined a 1% increase in VMT during 2019 and again in 2020 would be the minimum likely increase. Once the VMT estimate for calendar year 2018 and percentage of VMT increase was agreed upon, the rate was then calculated using the 6352.4 serious injury number target to obtain the 7.690 target for the 2016-2020 target setting performance cycle.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.
    Generally, as the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increases, the opportunity for severe vehicle crashes to occur also rises. Factors contributing to increases in VMT include population growth, low fuel prices, and a healthy economy. Since March, Tennessee has seen drastic reductions in traffic volumes caused by school and business closures, shift to remote work, and a Safer at Home order issued by the governor to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This order was in effect from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020 though many businesses chose to close or have employees work from home prior to that date and many have elected to extend those conditions beyond the expiration of the order. While Tennessee’s population continued to rise (0.85% from 2018 to 2019) (1) and fuel prices are low, the abrupt shutdown of Tennessee’s economy has significantly impacted traffic volumes in the Volunteer state with volumes reduced as much as 60% in some areas after the Safer at Home order was put into effect.

    It is possible that a long-term reduction in VMT may be experienced as the state encounters an economic downturn. The Safety Working Group theorized that some employers are likely not to return to a normal office setting if telework performance has effectively provided continuity of services. Tennessee’s second largest industry is tourism and, according to one report, Nashville has already cancelled 835 conventions with approximately 26M people cancelling trips through the end of 2020 (2). Finally, there are conflicting views that a second wave of the pandemic may occur later in the fall which would likely reduce traffic again.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of Federal Highway, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, Bristol Urban Area MPO, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process.

    Published VMT from Federal Highway’s Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI) Highway Statistics Series Table VM-2 (3) were used for calendar years 2018 and prior. TDOT’s Long Range Planning Division estimates calendar year 2019 VMT at 82,892 million miles. This estimate represents the preliminary VMT amount TDOT submitted to the Highway Performance and Monitoring System as of May 18, 2019. (Note: Because it is anticipated that VMT numbers will continue to change until published by FHWA, no updates have been made to the agreed upon 2015-2019 baseline.)

    Based upon the uncertainty of travel patterns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team reviewed travel data available for March, April and early May and considered several scenarios before opting to take a conservative approach for identifying the serious injury rate target. The team estimates Tennessee will have declines in normal traffic as follows: 40% in March and April 2020, 20% in May, 10% in June, and will hold at 5% below normal traffic for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. (VMT for 2021 was estimated using an average of VMT from 2018, 2019, and projected 2020 values). Once the VMT estimates for calendar years 2020 and 2021 were agreed upon, the rate was then calculated using the 6,227.1 serious injury number target to obtain the 8.394 target for the 2017-2021 target setting performance cycle.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities on our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    REFERENCES

    1 Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Tennessee State Data Center. “2019 Population Estimates Show Continued Growth in Tennessee, Southeastern States,” [Online]. Available: https://tnsdc.utk.edu/2019/12/31/2019- population-estimates-show-continued-growth-in-tennessee-southeastern-states/
    2 Abell, AJ. May 1, 2020. Nashville Tourism Hit Hard: 4th of July Likely Off, 835 Conventions Canceled. WZTV [Online]. Available: https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-tourism-hit-hard-4th-of-july-likely-off-835-conventions-canceled
    3 Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Policy Information, 2013-2018, State Tables Vehicle-miles of travel, by functional system, [Online]. Available: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics.cfm

  • Data Sources:
    Serious Injuries: 2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Report
    VMT: 2013-2019 FHWA Highway Statistics Series, VM-2 Table
    Targets: 2018-2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Reports

  • Number of Non-Motorized Fatalities and Serious Injuries

  • Number of Non-Motorized Fatalities
    and Serious Injuries
    2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Annual 349 440 503 491 546 496 504
    5-Year Average 465.8 495.2 508.0
    Target (5-Year Average) 546.8 527.2 521.0
  • Basis for Number of Non-Motorized Fatalities and Serious Injuries Target

    • Numbers continue to trend upward. An increase of 10.5% was seen in Tennessee from 2016 to 2017.
    • The 2014-2018 target estimated a 2.5 % increase per year.
    • The average change increase over past five years was 4.36%.
    • Preliminary numbers show 13% (134) of all highway fatalities for 2017 were non-motorized.
    • Growth in urban areas continues causing greater mix of pedestrians and bikes on the roadway system.
    • There is a national trend for higher numbers of fatalities and serious injuries for non-motorized transportation; reasons for recent rise in pedestrian fatalities have not been scientifically determined, however experts suspect distracted driving and walking (smartphones) or being under the influence may be key contributors.
    • Target assumes annual increase of 4.36% from 2017 for next two years (increase of 4.36% in 2018 and increase of 4.36% in 2019)
    The number of non-motorist serious injuries and fatalities is the fastest increasing trend of all safety performance measures with an average rate of change at 8.3% from year to year over the past 5 years (2014-2018). In addition to the almost 1% population increase Tennessee experienced in 2018, there also appears to be increased use of personal mobility options such as e-scooters and bike share. Three more companies are scheduled to begin providing dockless bicycles in Tennessee’s capital, Nashville, this year. Meanwhile, the Tennessee General Assembly recently passed legislation which establishes requirements for the operation of electric scooters similar to those in place for bicycles. TDOT has awarded 16 Multimodal Access Grants, most of which will cover sidewalk and pedestrian improvements, for FY2019. While it is expected that projects resulting from the Multimodal Access Grants and Pedestrian Road Safety Initiative will be completed by the end of the target setting cycle, TDOT is still projecting that non-motorist serious injuries and fatalities will continue to rise. As of May 1, 2019, Year to Date (YTD) information shows an increase of 9 non-motorized fatalities against the same date in 2018.

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. In addition to implementing the Highway Safety Manual, utilizing predictive analysis to provide further enforcement at high crash locations, and providing various training programs, a bill banning handheld cell phones or standalone electronic devices took effect on July 1, 2019. This bill also requires the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to include distracted driving as part of the information presented in driver education training.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of FHWA, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process. The other 7 MPO's were invited to the process of determining the targets. The working group has selected a target of 527.2 for the 2016-2020 target setting performance cycle. This target assumes that the number of non-motorized serious injuries and fatalities for 2019 will increase by approximately* 5.5% each year. This percentage represents the average rate of change in the 5-year moving average non-motorized serious injury and fatalities from 2014-2018.

    After this target was identified, it was noted that 10% of CY 2018 pedestrian fatalities occurred on Tennessee interstates. This may be an area to consider for further investigation.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries for all users of our roadways. As such, these targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    * The original 5.5% projection would indicate partial serious injuries and fatalities year over year. Adjustments have been made to account for this. This adjustment means the projected 2019 target is a 5.6% increase over calendar year 2018.
    Over the past decade (2009-2019), the number of non-motorist serious injuries and fatalities had an average rate of change at 3% from year to year. As of May 1, 2020, there were 9 more non-motorist fatalities compared to the same date in 2019. In addition to the 0.85% population growth experienced in the Volunteer State from 2018 to 2019 (1), there is anecdotal evidence to suggest a higher rate of bicyclist and pedestrian activity beginning with the Safer at Home order issued by the governor during March and April 2020.

    Projects to widen roadways and maintain wide travel lanes and sight distances have been identified for completion within Tennessee. While these projects may be necessary to alleviate congestion or other transportation problems, they also tend to decrease safety for pedestrians.

    Work to increase traffic safety in Tennessee is ongoing. With FHWA technical assistance over five years, seven TDOT divisions are working together to elevate seven pedestrian safety infrastructure designs in our plans: road diets, visibility enhancements, leading pedestrian intervals, pedestrian hybrid beacons, rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, pedestrian refuge islands and raised crosswalks.

    Additionally, TDOT has identified 17 high pedestrian crash locations and designed safety upgrades for these areas. Further, TDOT’s Multimodal Division is preparing to select additional pedestrian crash locations for future upgrades.

    TDOT has awarded 57 Multimodal Access Grants representing almost $44 Million in state funds since 2014. Another 18 projects ($14.5 Million) are anticipated to be awarded in 2020 and 2021 grants have been funded for $18 Million. Most of these grants cover sidewalk and pedestrian improvements. While it is expected that projects resulting from the Multimodal Access Grants and Pedestrian Road Safety Initiative will be completed by the end of the target setting cycle, TDOT is still projecting that non-motorist serious injuries and fatalities will continue to rise.

    Tennessee’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have completed projects related to bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements with additional projects under construction. TDOT also provides facilitation and technical guidance to local requests for roadway restriping plans such as roadway diets, reduced lane widths, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian crossings. These projects improve pedestrian and bicycle access and safety.

    Targets were set by consensus among working group participants which consisted of members of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), TDOSHS, Tennessee Division Office of Federal Highway, and various divisions within TDOT. Input from the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, Chattanooga – Hamilton Regional Planning Agency, Bristol Urban Area MPO, and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in the target decision making process.

    The working group has selected a target of 521.0 for the 2017-2021 target setting performance cycle. This target assumes that the number of non-motorized serious injuries and fatalities for 2019 will increase by approximately 3.2% each year despite Tennessee's mitigation efforts. This percentage represents the average rate of change in the 5-year moving average non-motorized serious injury and fatalities from 2015-2019.

    It is always the intent of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our partner agencies to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries for all users of our roadways. These targets are performance projections based on historical data and influencing factors.

    REFERENCES

    1 Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Tennessee State Data Center. “2019 Population Estimates Show Continued Growth in Tennessee, Southeastern States,” [Online]. Available: https://tnsdc.utk.edu/2019/12/31/2019- population-estimates-show-continued-growth-in-tennessee-southeastern-states/

  • Data Sources:
    Fatalities: 2013-2018 Final FARS, 2019 FARS Annual Report File
    Serious Injuries: 2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Report
    Targets: 2018-2020 Tennessee HSIP Annual Reports


Additional Comments

2019 Comments:

Fatalities There was no change in percent of fatalities between CY 2016 and 2017 based on preliminary 2017 numbers. Fatality numbers from 2016 to 2017 appear to have remained stable after a significant increase in fatalities from 2015 to 2016 (8%). Early 2018 fatality numbers were trending lower than 2017 numbers in a year to date comparison as of April 2, 2018. Three years ( 2013, 2014, and 2015) with some of the state’s lowest fatality numbers (under 1,000 fatalities) are included in Tennessee’s 2013-2017 five-year rolling average baseline; this impacts ability to set a target lower than the baseline. Non-motorist fatalities comprised 11% of total traffic fatalities in Tennessee for CY 2016. Preliminary data, indicates that 134 (13%) of the 1,042 traffic fatalities that occurred in TN in 2017 were non-motorist fatalities. Non-motorist fatalities have been on the increase nationwide. Distracted walking is now a concern for cities and states as sharp rise in smartphones to send and receive messages is a mental and visual distraction for both walkers and drivers. (Non-motorist fatalities in TN were over a 100 for both 2015 and 2016 showing a substantial increase from the previous four years (2011-2014). Vehicle Miles Travelled VMT trend continues upward. Preliminary 2017 VMT numbers indicate that VMT in Tennessee increased from 4-6%. VMT and average monthly temperature had strong positive relationships with number of fatalities meaning more fatalities occur when more driving was done, and also when weather was warmer. New passenger vehicle registrations also showed a positive correlation with the number of fatalities but not as strong as VMT and temperature. Reference 5-year Correlation between Fatalities and Economic and Other Indicators (2011-2015) chart that was part of a 2015 NHTSA report. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812318 Draft targets set for 2015-2019 anticipate a 1.0% increase in VMT. This was based on average VMT increase over recent years along with estimation of population growth of 0.8% a year for next decade as reported in the 2018 State Economic Outlook Report. Population and Travel Growth “For the fourth year in a row, Tennessee saw population growth increasing slightly faster than the national average. Tennessee’s population in 2017 was 6.7 million, which was one percent more than in 2016. The Nashville metropolitan area continued to see its population grow faster than the rest of the state in 2017. Of the state’s 95 counties, a total of 77 experienced growth in their populations. Of the 77 counties, 34 had growth rates that exceeded the state average of 1.1% and 45 grew faster than the national average of 0.7%”. – U. T. Boyd Center for Business and Research According to the 2018 Economic Report to the Governor, Tennessee’s population is projected to grow at rate of 0.8% per year for the next 10 years keeping pace with national forecast for population growth. Tennessee experienced 113.6 million person stays in 2017, an increase of 3.3 percent over 2016. Tennessee places among the Top 10 travel destinations in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year and is considered to be a top retirement destination. In 2017, Tennessee had 4,799,881 licensed drivers. This is an increase of approximately 2%from 2016 Twenty percent of licensed drivers in Tennessee as of 2016 are senior drivers (65 years or older.) Tennessee's senior population as of 2017 is estimated to be 16% of total state population fy the U.S. Census Bureau. Distracted Driving

Safety Performance Target Assessment

PLEASE NOTE: Each State’s safety performance target assessment is based on its own State-specific target methodology and program philosophy. Therefore, conclusions should not be drawn based only on the information in the Safety Performance Target Assessment Summary table. For example, the State may have set aggressive targets, and not met those targets, while another State may have set more easily attainable targets, and met those targets. FHWA understands that each State’s safety program is unique and therefore does not prescribe a methodology for States to set targets. States have the flexibility to use the methodology they deem most appropriate when setting their safety performance targets.

Tennessee 2019 Safety Performance Target Assessment
Performance Measure 2015-2019 Target 2015-2019 Actual 2013-2017 Baseline Met Target? Better Than Baseline? Met or Made Significant Progress?
Number of Fatalities 1,022.0 1,039.6 996.2 No No Yes
Rate of Fatalities 1.291 1.298 1.314 No Yes
Number of Serious Injuries 7,374.6 6,725.8 7,225.4 Yes N/A
Rate of Serious Injuries 9.324 8.446 9.540 Yes N/A
Number of Non-Motorized Fatalities and Serious Injuries 546.8 508.0 465.8 Yes N/A

Updated: 05/26/2021
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