Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in the Smoky Mountain Region have joined forces to create a Foothills Law Enforcement Coalition. This 13-agency partnership consists of all the sheriff and police departments in the three Tennessee counties adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Made possible with special funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the focus of the coalition is to increase public awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired. Coalition partners will promote educational messages and coordinate law enforcement activities like sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of three national parks participating in a pilot program funded by NHTSA aimed at reducing DUI crashes in the National Park System through enhanced education and law enforcement efforts. Delaware Water Gap and Zion National Park are also participating. Now in the third year of this program, these efforts have enabled rangers at the Smokies to join with neighboring law enforcement partners to more effectively target impaired drivers.
Chief Ranger Clay Jordan said, "Great Smoky Mountains National Park's mountainous roads are narrow, winding and heavily traveled. It can be an unforgiving environment for a careless driver; or worse, for a driver whose mental state is compromised by alcohol or drugs. Of the 14 or so alcohol-related fatalities the three county area averages each year, three or four of them typically occur within the park."
Kendell Poole, Director of the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office, stated "This is a significant partnership. By this endeavor, we are going to create further public awareness in and around the national park area. We're going to create a united front and let people know we are serious about keeping our roads safe."