Auto Accidents in the Tri-Cities: Johnson City, Bristol, and Kingsport | The Law Offices of G Turner Howard III

It’s no secret that it’s important to be aware of your surroundings on the road. But many drivers forget that it’s just as important to be aware of your own habits behind the wheel. No one wants to picture themselves in an auto accident, let alone at fault after one. But the truth is… accidents happen! Every minute of every day, someone somewhere is injured in a car accident.

Knox County comes in at a whopping average of 14,194 auto accidents every year, according to data from Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Last year, this number was just slightly higher than average with a total of 14,527 accidents, nearly 300 of which were fatal or led to an injury. But Knox County isn’t the only one to look out for. The Tri-Cities also have their share of auto accidents every day:

  • Sullivan County
    In 2019, there were more than 4,000 accidents in Sullivan County alone, which includes most of the Tri-Cities (Kingsport, Bristol, and part of Johnson City). In recent years, this number hasn’t seemed to change drastically and averages out around 4,186 auto accidents per year.

  • Hawkins County
    A small part of Kingsport, Tennessee is home to Hawkins County, where there were a total of 732 auto accidents last year alone. A smaller region in the Tri-Cities, Hawkins has an average of 830 auto accidents per year, with a 5-year peak of 911 accidents in 2017.

  • Washington County
    Like Knox and Sullivan, Washington County is also in the thousands when it comes to the number of auto accidents that occur every year. Over the past 5 years, this Johnson City county hasn’t dropped below the 4,000/year mark. However, it’s important to note that the size of Knoxville and Johnson City’s populations play a large factor in these numbers.

  • Carter County
    With Hawkins on the lower end of the spectrum is Carter County, which makes up a small part of Johnson City, Tennessee. With an average of 1,223 auto accidents every year, this county may seem like a safer place to be. But keeping in mind the smaller population size (about 56,000 people, compared to Knox County’s nearly 500,000), it’s actually got a higher accident rate than other counties on our Tri-Cities list.

While the number of crashes and injuries obtained from auto accidents fluctuate every year no matter where you live, the top causes often stay the same. In Knox County and the Tri-Cities, Johnson City, Bristol, and Kingsport, three of the top causes of auto accidents are:

Following Too Closely (aka Tailing)

In Tennessee, there’s been more than 350,000 auto accidents that could have been avoided if a driver wasn’t following improperly behind another car. But following improperly, often referred to as tailing, can be easily avoided with the 3-second rule— a general rule of thumb for creating ample distance between vehicles in order to avoid an accident due to sudden stops.

Failing to Yield the Right of Way

Since 2009, failure to yield the right of way has resulted in just under 300,000 car accidents in the state of Tennessee alone. If an accident occurs due to failing to yield, it’s usually after the driver makes a left hand turn on a yellow or red light. These auto accidents differ from others because the driver not-at-fault is typically the one who crashes into the driver at-fault.

Failing to Stay in One Lane (aka Swerving)

Swerving into another driver’s lane or running off the road is the third highest cause of car crashes in Tennessee, coming in around 250,000 accidents over the past decade. Based on the assumption that alcohol is involved, drivers who fail to stay in their lane may be asked to take a breathalyzer test. However, there can be other reasons for swerving that don’t involve substances, such as drowsiness, high wind speeds, or poor road conditions.

If you or someone you know is looking for help after a Knoxville or Tri-Cities area auto accident, we’re here to help. 
Give us a call at (865) 658-4012 to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation today. And as always, stay safe out there.


After spending his secondary years of study at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, G Turner Howard III earned his BA at Tulane University. A member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, he received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Before becoming an attorney, he earned a Master’s and Doctor of Divinity at Andrews Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary. He also served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army in Vietnam. With more than 20 years of experience, his firm has helped clients receive millions of dollars for personal injury, and in many cases, much faster than they ever expected.
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