Just in time for the holiday season, traffic safety is getting a second, more holistic look from Tennessee officials with the start of the new Combined Message Enforcement for Tennessee (CoMET) program. Rather than focusing on a single aspect of driver and passenger safety, as with the previous “Click It or Ticket” campaign, aimed at seatbelts or the “Booze It & Lose It” campaign, aimed at impaired driving, CoMET will focus on all traffic safety issues facing people driving in or travelling through Tennessee.
While the main focus of CoMET will be impaired drivers, among the targets of the road safety campaign are also distracted drivers, aggressive drivers, speeding drivers and those not wearing a seatbelt. Impaired drivers contributed to one-third of all Tennessee fatal car accidents in 2009 and law enforcement is hoping this new initiative will save lives going forward.
Impaired driving is not limited only to alcohol-induced impairment. Drugs and prescription medication can also interfere with a driver’s ability to timely and appropriately react while behind the wheel.
Another alarming statistic that is being targeted by CoMET relates to seatbelt use. Passenger restraint systems, when used, may be the most effective step a driver or passenger can take to safeguard themselves from injury or death during a motor vehicle accident. But, surprisingly, 69 percent of those killed in a Tennessee car crash in 2009 between the ages of 18 and 34 were not wearing seatbelts.
Not to be forgotten, distracted drivers and speeding drivers have also earned their share of attention from law enforcement. Twenty-one percent of fatal Tennessee car accidents in 2009 were speed-related. Distracted driving, including both talking and texting while behind the wheel, caused at least in part the death of almost 6,000 people in 2009 and injured another 450,000.
CoMET is a pilot project that, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is targeting young adult males specifically through high visibility enforcement techniques.