Rutherford County has received over half a million dollars in Tennessee Highway Safety Office grants to support safe-driving initiatives and attempt to reduce the number of traffic incidents.

Law enforcement agencies in Eagleville, LaVergne, Murfreesboro and Smyrna each received funding to aid existing programs, including police traffic services and high visibility services. Those municipalities received a combined total of $229,782.

Last year, there were 16,229 car crashes that took place in the county, according to an online report released by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. As of June 30, 2021, the number of crashes in the county is 8,344.

This year’s current figure is just over half of what was recorded for all of 2020.

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh presented the county’s portion of the grant to the Budget, Finance and Investment Committee for approval last Thursday night.

The sheriff’s office received $125,000 for police traffic services and $15,000 for the Teen Driver Safety Program. Fitzhugh said that program puts an emphasis on teaching alcohol awareness to young drivers.

“This will be distributed through overtime and some matching equipment for our THSO program,” said Fitzhugh referring to the first grant.

Neither grant will require matching funds from the county.

The same Homeland Security report revealed that there were 737 minors involved in traffic crashes throughout 2020 with 35 being aged 15 or under and 704 who were between 16 and 17 years old.

This year’s report, which was most recently updated on June 30, shows that there were 392 minors involved in crashes. Twenty-four were aged 15 or younger and 368 were between 16 and years old.

The county’s alcohol-related crashes for the year as of June 30 is listed at 199 in comparison to last year’s total of 360. Distracted driving-related crash figures have been recorded at 526 for 2021 and 1,118 for 2020.

The county has had 202 DUI arrests in 2021 as of Friday, Oct. 8, according to RCSO spokeswoman Lisa Marchesoni.

The county’s Prevention Coalition for Success for Alcohol and Impaired Driving Education received $57,238 and the Tennessee District Attorney General for the 16th Judicial District, which covers both Rutherford and Cannon counties, received $170,600 for DUI prosecution.

The county’s total grant allocation amounts to $597,620.

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