'Knock At The Door' Campaign Aims To Curb Fatal Crashes

Posted at 7:27 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 13:12:50-04

Years after a personal tragedy, a Tennessee Highway Safety official launched a program in hopes of lowering the number of fatal crashes in the state.

Vic Donoho said he will never forget the knock at the door when he was just 14 years old.

"I can distinctly remember the scream of my uncle when he was told," he said.

His aunt, along with his two cousins, one 11 years old and one just a baby, were dead. They were killed in a hit and run.

"They were unexpectedly killed by an impaired driver - all three of them died in the crash," he said.

His difficult experience eventually led him to work as an EMS paramedic and later with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

There, he made that same knock on the door more often than he'd like. His first: when a 9-year-old boy was killed on a motorcycle.

"Sometimes the family is angry and they're angry at the person delivering the news," Donoho, now the Director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office said, "sometimes they want to see their loved one to make sure the information is correct, sometimes they want to lash out (at the person responsible)."

Across the state, highway deaths have risen this year: 693 people have died on Tennessee roads. That's 10 more than during the same time last year.

In Metro Nashville, 54 people have died so far in 2017, which is a 20 percent jump from 2016.

It's the reason the Tennessee Highway Safety Office has pushed a new "knock at the door" campaign to try to curb fatal crashes.

They say almost all of them are preventable, and no one wants to be on either side of that door. Take it from someone who's been on both.

"It's not a mechanical error, it's behavior," Donoho said, "and if we could reduce those just by half think of the lives we could save."

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office says 94 percent of fatal crashes are due to driver behavior. That can be anything from distracted driving to aggressive driving to not paying attention.