Law Enforcement and hospital warn of a fatal wreck emergency in our area


CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A warning tonight from Chattanooga Police after a dramatic increase in fatalities over this time last year.

Several law enforcement agencies and Erlanger Health System, want to encourage drivers to be more careful this holiday season.

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News 12’s Ashley Henderson has the story.

Hamilton County is up 16 traffic related fatalities over this time last year.

The Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, the Tennessee Highway patrol and Erlanger are calling this a traffic safety emergency.

Lt. John Harmon with the Tennessee Highway Patrol says “We have had 12 fatalities in 13 days.”

They are urging drivers to focus on not only their own driving, but that of the other drivers around them.

Chattanooga PD Chief David Roddy says “Whatever that takes to give yourself that extra time to process, whether it’s slowing your speed, whether it’s increasing the gap between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.”

Lt. Harmon adds “We, as drivers, have to get back to the basics, the basic fundamentals of driving when we were taught when we were sixteen years old.”

According to recent statistics, in our area this year, we saw 8 fatal motorcycle accidents.

That’s almost as many as 2016 and 2017 combined.

Seven pedestrians have died on our roadways, and that’s three more than 2016 and 2017 combined.

Dr. Robert Maxwell is a surgeon at Erlanger.

He says they see an average of one thousand, four hundred trauma patients a year, just from traffic accidents.

“About thirty-six of those result in deaths. And the patients that do make it to the hospital  die of head injuries, and the primary reason that they die from head injuries is from not wearing their seat belt, and their head hitting the windshield, or some other unforgiving object during the time of impact.”

Chief Roddy says that there doesn’t seem to be any common denominator for the causes.

“So, whether it becomes a motorcycle related fatality, pedestrian related, typical passenger vehicle, or whether it’s speed, distracted driving, impaired driving, all of those seem to have overlaid themselves increasing the number that we’ve experienced.”

In Chattanooga, Ashley Henderson, News 12 Now.