50 percent of Sevier County fatalities occur on Chapman Highway
The sound of a siren pierces the air. Heads rise to listen, wondering which way the ambulance is going. Passing drivers rubberneck to see how bad the injury is, wondering if the victim was someone that they knew. Another fatality has occurred.
Last year, Sevier County was the site of sixteen fatalities on state highways, half of those fatalities occurred on Chapman Highway.
Many area residents have voiced their concern about Chapman Highway. The lack of left turn lanes in some sections leave many wary about turning into businesses. Some Seymour businesses have moved off the Highway out of concern for customer safety. “Unless you are located on Chapman with a center turn lane or at one of the big supermarkets, chances are you would do better on a main side road,” stated a local businessperson.
The facts below speak for themselves. The following list describes the location of each fatality and whether alcohol was involved or not.
January 3: Upper Middle Creek Road, .6 miles from Pittman Center Road, alcohol was involved.
January 3: Maryville Highway, .3 miles from Black Oak Ridge Road, no alcohol involved.
January 5: Parkway at Collier Street, no alcohol involved.
February 22: Chapman Highway by Community Park Road, no alcohol involved.
May 15, Upper Middle Creek by A.M. King Way, alcohol and drugs involved.
May 18, I-40 W, 407 exit on ramp 40, alcohol involvement not known.
July 2: Chapman Highway, .3 miles from Reagan Branch Road, no alcohol involved.
July 24: Chapman Highway at McMahan Road, no alcohol involved.
August 31: U.S. 321/State Route 73/Wears Valley Road by Trace Way, no alcohol involved.
September 9: Highway 66/ Winnfield Dunn Parkway at West Dumplin Valley Road, no alcohol involved.
October 4: Highway 66/ Winnfield Dunn Parkway by Foretravel Drive, no alcohol was involved.
November 5: Patterson Road at Highway 411/ Newport Highway, drugs were involved.
December 12: Chapman Highway at Reagan Branch Road, alcohol was involved.
December 15: Chapman Highway by Wye Road, alcohol was involved.
December 28: Chapman Highway by White Schools Road, no alcohol involved.
The following two accidents occurred on Chapman Highway in Knox County:
May 19: Chapman Highway at State Route 168/John Sevier Highway, alcohol and drugs were involved.
August 19: Chapman Highway by Michaels Road, no alcohol involved.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation reported that it is sponsoring a 15-month project by the Midwest Research Institute Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University. The study will rate the level of safety on U.S. roads. According to the AAA, the level of safety for motorists on U.S. roads varies widely. Controlled-access freeways, with no at-grade intersections or driveways, provide the highest level of safety among road types. Other safety enhancing features of roadways include medians, roadside clear zones, guardrails, median barriers, and intersection turn lanes.
AAA says that there is currently no systematic road assessment program in the United States to inform motorists of the level of safety on the roads they travel. This would enable concerned citizens to provide informed data to highway agencies on needs for safety improvement. A program does exist in Europe. The European road assessment program (EuroRAP) was developed to evaluate the safety of roads using two methods: a combination of available crash statistics summarized by crash location and a road safety review based on the features of specific roadway sections. Under this scheme, road sections are given a rating from one to five stars, with five stars representing the safest road.
The figures above indicate only those fatalities on state highways. There were other deaths on Sevier County roads which will be discussed in a future issue.
Travelers on Chapman Highway in Sevier County can find white crosses dotting the side of the road at too many locations. Wreaths and flowers cannot bring back someone from the dead. Those memorials are not in vain, however, if they inspire area residents to drive a little safer, to watch out for the other guy, or to always have a designated driver if you are going to drink. This year 2005 could have a significantly less amount of fatalities because of driver safety.