Officials hope project prevents traffic fatalities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- After years of declines in traffic fatalities, deaths in crashes are on the rise again. But state highway officials are hoping a federal demonstration project will reverse that trend.

Governor's Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole told The Commercial Appeal that deaths in traffic accidents in Tennessee fell to 946 last year, the lowest number recorded since 1962.

But over the first three months of 2012, those fatalities jumped by about 28 percent.

That's where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "combined messaging" project comes in.

In the past, highway safety messages have always targeted one specific problem behavior, such as not wearing seatbelts.

The demonstration project will test the effectiveness of a message like "buckle up and watch your speed."

Oklahoma is the only other state participating.

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