Tennessee is in the top 10 states in population and density but is only the 37th largest state in the union. Tennessee is a land-locked state in the southeastern portion of the US and is generally broken into three distinct regions. With weather patterns that are varied from snow and ice storms to heavy fog, to hurricanes, tornadoes and tropical storms Tennessee offers a plethora of safety issue for drivers. The good news is the more severe of these events are often rare in the state.
A Southern State
A state of the South, Tennessee borders 8 other states and ties Missouri for the most bordered state. With Nashville in its epicenter, you could say all roads lead to Nashville, as three Interstate highways tri-sect the city north-south, east-west and northwest-southeast. With 11 Interstate Highways and Beltways the Volunteer State is crisscrossed with large highways.
The state itself geographically is generally dissected into 3 distinct regions, the east, west and the middle. Eastern Tennessee is home to the Blue Ridge area and home to various mountain ranges with an average elevation of 5000 ft. above sea level and is the least populous region in the state. It is also now home to a National Forest and a National State Park and several federal wilderness areas and state parks ensuring its place as a rural area in the state. Its mountains are intersected generally by fertile valleys and the Great Valley that is home to most of the population of Eastern Tennessee including its 3rd largest city Knoxville and Chattanooga its 4th largest city.
Middle Tennessee, part of the Cumberland Plateau is an elevated plain and houses the most populous region in Tennessee including the state capital of Nashville. With 50% of the population of the US within 600 miles of Nashville, it is easy to see why it is intersected so heavily with Interstate highways.
Western Tennessee is part of the Gulf of Mexico Gulf Coastal Plain that extends into Illinois and includes the Tennessee River as the western boundary. The lowlands of this river bottom out in Memphis the largest city in the state and are part of the Tennessee River delta, and have lowlands, flood plains and swamp areas.
Driving in Tennessee can be an adventure as you deal with the weather variations, elevation changes and scenery changes from mountain to valley to plain to swamp. With weather that can include a winter blizzard, although rare, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricane remnants and tropical storms, flooding and many thunderstorms drivers need to be aware of their region and possible weather. A humid subtropical climate provides mild to cool winters on average and hot and humid summers.
Always an Interstate Nearby
With a dissecting of the state in almost any direction is one of the 9 main Interstate highways including I40, 26, 24, 22, 55, 65, 75, and 81 as well as Beltway or Branch Interstates including I-240, 440, 140, 640, 269, 155, 275. Driving in any direction in almost any region of the state will put you on an Interstate highway within an hour or less.
However, this does not mean there are not driving safety issues on these roadways. In fact eastern Tennessee is notoriously dangerous for sudden and thick fog, roads through the mountainous regions can often freeze in the winter even when there is no snow and this shows through in the higher than average fatality rate on Tennessee highways compared to the national average.
Standard At Fault Comparative Fault
With an at fault insurance system that uses a 50% bar rule for its comparative fault, Tennessee is in a group of like states. You are required to have insurance in the state but with over 20% of drivers not getting insurance it is one of the worst states in the union for insurance coverage rates, even though its insurance costs are below the national average.
Car safety in Tennessee in regards to insurance means ensuring that you have it, legally you are required to anyways, as well as having Uninsured Coverage that is mandated by the state to be offered on every insurance policy anyways. You may be tempted to decline this insurance but in order to protect yourself in one of the lowest insured driver rates in the nation it is in your best interest to keep it.
DUI charges under 0.08%
Just because the DUI effective BAC limit nationally and within Tennessee is 0.08%, does not mean that you cannot be charged with DUI in Tennessee. If the charging officer feels that even though you are under the BAC limit but are still impaired you can still be charged with DUI. With a DUI system that automatically revokes your license upon conviction it is better to avoid drinking and driving altogether from this standpoint alone. You will have to satisfy the quite harsh criminal court penalties that include the forfeiture of your vehicle on second and subsequent offenses as well as administrative relicensing parameters by the DOS once your court penalties have been satisfied.
Traffic Violation Point System
Tennessee also tracks all drivers’ traffic violations with a demerit point system that hands out demerits for most traffic violations. 12 points or more within twelve months results in a proposed suspension hearing where you will need to plead your case not to be suspended.
Did You Know That…
1. Provided the most soldiers to the Confederate and Union Armies from the south during the Civil War.
2. Mountain Dew the soft drink was created in Knoxville, TN.
3. You will not be able to drive unrestricted until you are 17 years old.
4. Tennessee has the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.
5. You can transfer in your teen driver’s license from another state at the age of 15.
6. It is named the Volunteer State because it had the most soldiers fight in the Battle of New Orleans.
7. Tennessee has an implied consent law, so if you refuse your license will be suspended or revoked anyways.
8. The Cracker Barrel restaurant was started in Lebanon, TN.
9. With a modified comparative fault bar rule 50, if you are 51% at fault you will receive no settlements or award damages.
10. The actual birthplace of Country Music is Bristol, not Nashville.