MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County is experiencing a drop in highway deaths, but it's not celebrating. The death toll is steadily increasing on other Tennessee roads.
We're only five in months into the year and at the rate Tennessee is going, more highway deaths are to be expected, especially considering summer is just around the corner.
“It is heartbreaking to see it sometimes,” said Carlton Towles, who heads up a Highway Incident Response Team.
He's seen hundreds of wrecks during the 12 years he's been on the job and still finds himself at a loss for words.
“It's hard to describe. You see mangled vehicles and all and people hurt and it's hard to describe what you feel when you're out there with them,” Towles said.
In recent months they've been out there more often. There have been 371 traffic deaths in Tennessee this year, 34 more than the same time in 2011. There have been at least 62 highway deaths across the state just this month.
“If they would drive right and quit doing things they're not supposed to be doing on the highways I would hope the deaths would go down,” Towles said.
According to Towles, driving right is avoiding distractions like texting, and obeying the speed limit.
“When you look at it there are really two things driving it: number one is a pretty dramatic increase in traffic fatalities related to motorcycles, and number two, traffic fatalities related to not wearing seat belts,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons.