December 22, 2009 - Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen announced traffic enforcement plans for the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. The Christmas holiday traffic enforcement effort will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 24, 2009, and conclude at midnight on Sunday, December 27, 2009. The New Year’s holiday enforcement period will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31, 2009, and conclude at Midnight on Sunday, January 3, 2010.
Chief Owen said throughout both holiday weekends officers will focus their attention on drivers who are speeding, following too closely, or who are driving recklessly. These three actions contribute to more crashes within the City of Knoxville than any other causation factor. In addition, officers will also seek out motorists who are driving while impaired.
Chief Owen said, “Officers will operate on a zero tolerance level for motorists who decide to drive while under the influence. Driver’s caught driving while impaired will go to jail.”
Throughout the two enforcement campaigns, the public will see an increase in patrols along the interstates and major arterial routes throughout the city. These patrols are designed to reduce the speed of vehicles, which in turn will reduce the number of collisions.
During the 2008 Christmas and New Year’s enforcement campaign, officers issued 1,615 driving related citations. Seventy-eight (78) motorists were caught violating the safety belt or child restraint law. In addition, 31 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence. Officers also investigated 106 vehicle crashes with 17 of those resulting in injuries. The last fatality to occur in a Christmas holiday enforcement period occurred in 2002. The December 2006 – January 2007 New Year’s holiday enforcement effort was the last time a fatality was recorded.
Chief Owen said, “Simply put, this is an extremely busy time of the year for families. Drivers can easily be distracted due to the many holiday related activities. We urge every motorist to slow down, increase the following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them, and please do not drive while impaired.”