Five people died and 29 people suffered serious injuries on (state Route 96 East) Lascassas Highway last year between the Murfreesboro city limits and the Cannon County line, a Rutherford County Sheriff’s supervisor said.
Sheriff’s Cpl. Michael Rodgers said the fatalities and serious injuries were among 74 crashes investigated by deputies and the Tennessee Highway Patrol last year on the 10-mile stretch of the highway.
Because of the frequent crashes, sheriff’s deputies and troopers want to prevent any lives lost from traffic crashes this year. They are concentrating on increased traffic enforcement beginning this month and throughout the summer.
Deputies and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) troopers already responded to a fiery, head-on crash where a van and car were engulfed in flames Wednesday night in Milton.
Rodgers said Lascassas Highway is a heavy traveled highway during the morning and afternoon commutes.
“Because there are so many drivers on the road, seemingly minor infractions such as following too closely, improper passing, and speeding are more dangerous,” Rodgers said. “Another serious issue is road rage. Many drivers become angry due to traffic conditions and make poor decisions.”
All these factors contribute to the high number of crashes and fatalities, the corporal said.
Deputies are taking a “zero tolerance” stand on speeding and will issue citations. If convicted, the driver will face a minimum $293.50 fine, the corporal said.
THP Lt. Jon Officer of Rutherford County and Lt. Chad Bilbrey of Wilson County said THP troopers will concentrate patrols on the highway in Rutherford and Wilson counties.
THP Lt. Billy Prater said troopers in Cannon and DeKalb counties will participate.
“The Cannon County section has seen an increase in crashes in the past year,” Prater said. “We have tried and been successful with some strategies in Cannon County but drivers seem to go back to their old habits after the enforcement period.”
There is also a little over a mile of “good section” of this road in DeKalb County, the lieutenant said.
“With spring and warmer weather around the corner, we will see an increase in motorcycle traffic on our “curvy section” in DeKalb County that runs from US70 to Center Hill Dam and Interstate 40,” Prater said.
Photo: Fortunately there were no deaths from this fiery crash last week in Milton.