JOE EDWARDS, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - About 900,000 people are projected to travel by car over the long holiday weekend in Tennessee and a special law enforcement crackdown will be in effect against traffic violators.
State troopers and local officers will be on the lookout for seat belt violators, impaired drivers and speeders.
"Impaired driving will not be tolerated," said Kendell Poole, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Office. "There will be no warnings or excuses. If you drive drunk, you will be stopped and you will be arrested.
"But speeding, distracted driving and failing to wear your seat belt will also cost you. ... We will be out in force to help save more lives on Tennessee's roadways."
Tennessee and Oklahoma are testing a new high visibility enforcement campaign dubbed "More Cops, More Stops." The state highway safety office is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the demonstration project.
Recent statistics show 60 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in Tennessee crashes were not wearing seat belts.
"Seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people in vehicle crashes," a news release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation said.
Twenty-one percent of fatal accidents in the state involved speeding vehicles. About one-third of the deadly crashes involved drunken driving.
Tennessee had 1,031 traffic fatalities in 2010. So far this year, 837 people have died in traffic accidents, down from 950 at this time a year ago.
Meanwhile, state transportation officials will halt all lane closures during the weekend in anticipation of increased traffic volume. However, workers may be on site in some construction zones.
"We want to provide maximum capacity, alleviate as much congestion as possible and help travelers avoid unnecessary delays," said John Schroer, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Adding to the state's vulnerability for traffic accidents is Tennessee's lengthy and widely used interstate system, totaling more than 1,100 miles. Interstates 75, 65 and 24 are main routes between much of the Midwest and points south; I-40 is an east-west route connecting the two coasts; I-55 connects Memphis and New Orleans.