By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Shelby County leads the state in the number of distracted driving crashes per 1,000 population, with 7.83, but Williamson County isn’t far behind, according to a ValuePenguin.com report that looked at distracted driving crashes across Tennessee counties.
The consumer research Web site found Williamson County to be the third-worst county in the state in terms of distracted driver crashes, with data from 2017 showing there were roughly 1,400 cases, or 6.19 for every 1,000 residents that year.
Davidson County’s rates landed it at number nine statewide, though drivers there were still found to be 29 percent less likely to be involved in a distracted driver crash when compared to Williamson County. Davidson’s County’s rate for distracted driver crashes was 4.42 cases for every 1,000 residents, with a reported 68.74 increase in cases from 2008.
The study also saw a large increase in distracted driver crashes in Williamson County when compared to data from 2008 – 129.55 percent more to be exact, amounting to an additional 640 cases.
Williamson was just behind Washington County (7.19), home of East Tennessee State University, and ahead of Montgomery County (6.17) and Rutherford County (5.56).
Maury County saw 4.11 distracted driver crashes for every 1,000 residents, with a 39.33 increase in cases from 2008.
Jackson County (0.34) had the state’s lowest rate of distracted driving crashes, and had the most significant decrease of 67% in distracted driving crashes from 2008 to 2017.
Every county in Tennessee reported crashes caused by distracted driving; however, some saw a steeper increase than others. Over 43% of counties saw at least double the number of crashes in 2017 than they had in 2008, with nearly 12% seeing an increase of 200% or more. Shelby County reported 5,623 more distracted driving crashes in 2017 than 2008, an increase of 343.49%.
Statewide, there are 3.91 distracted driving crashes per 1,000 residents annually.
Distracted driving is the target of a new law going into effect next month. Public Chapter 412, which goes into effect July 1, will ban all hand-held mobile phone use for drivers, though hands-free device use will still be permitted.
ValuePenguin, which studies such data in connection with insurance research, was conducted using data from the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security and Highway Patrol.