Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
Select Page

Tennessee Auto Insurance Review (Coverage, Rates, & More)

FREE Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top insurance companies and save!

Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Tennessee Summary StatisticsDetails
Annual Road MilesTotal in State: 95,561
Vehicle Miles Driven: 7.23 billion
Vehicles Registered in State: 5.33 million
Total Stolen: 12,599
State Population6,770,010
Most Popular Vehicle Ford F-150
Uninsured Motorists20%
State Rank: 5th
Total Driving Fatalities2008-2017
Speeding: 2,094
Drunk Driving: 2,726
Annual PremiumsLiability: $413.91
Collision: $309.07
Comprehensive: $148.45
Cheapest ProviderState Farm

Tennessee is the home of “the soundtrack of America.” Its two biggest cities, Nashville and Memphis, are known as the heart of country music, blues, and early rock-and-roll.

Nashville features the historic Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, while Memphis hosts Elvis Presley’s Graceland, together with Beale Street blues clubs and the legendary Sun Studio.

The state also has a rich political history, having been a major Civil War battleground and the home of controversial U.S. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. Johnson, Vice President under Abraham Lincoln and his successor, was the first American president to be impeached.

Tennessee is also known for its growing population and auto industry. As we’ll cover later, the state has several car museums. With more and more cars on Tennessee roads, the need for good auto insurance coverage is increasing, too.

In this Tennessee car insurance review, we’ve found rates by age and gender, collected company ratings, gathered information about state laws, and so much more.

You’ll find everything you need here to help you shop for car insurance. And while you search, enter your zip code for a FREE car insurance quote.

Table of Contents

Tennessee Car Insurance Coverage & Rates

Shopping for car insurance can be stressful. The mere thought of spending hours researching companies and rates can make us procrastinate when it comes time to decide which coverage to buy.

But you don’t have to sweat it out. As Ben Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” The good news is we’ve done all the hard work for you. In this section, you’ll find all you need to know about the state minimum insurance requirements, additional liability insurance, and coverage you can buy.

So, why not get started now? Scroll on to learn more.

 Tennessee’s Car Culture

In Tennessee, cars aren’t just necessary for getting around, they’re also a status symbol. Despite any age and wear and tear, they’re likely to sport fresh coats of paint, new tires, or a decent sound system.

That philosophy also shows in the many car museums spread throughout the state. At the Lane Motor Museum near Nashville, which specializes in European vehicles, visitors will find more than 400 “unique cars from A to Z.” In its annual “Rally for the Lane” event, drivers can take one of the museum’s cars for a day-long treasure hunt through the Nashville countryside.

Among other automobile museums are the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, where you’ll find the Batmobile, and the Floyd Garret Muscle Car Museum for American-made sports cars.

– Tennessee’s Minimum Coverage

In Tennessee, drivers who cause an accident are responsible or “at fault” for any personal injury or property claims. As such, drivers there must carry the following coverage for each registered vehicle:

Insurance TypeInsurance Required
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability Coverage$15,000 minimum

These minimum liability coverages will pay for the costs of medical bills, property damage, and other losses from an accident you cause. Your insurance will pay these expenses up to your coverage limits.

If you don’t have enough insurance coverage, however, you may have to pay the bills yourself. That’s why it makes sense to buy more coverage than the state minimum requirements to protect yourself in case of an accident.

The law firm video below goes over Tennessee car insurance laws:

Forms of Financial Responsibility

Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law requires drivers to show proof of insurance when a law enforcement officer pulls them over. An officer can make a routine traffic stop or pull you over if there’s been an injury, death, or property damage exceeding $400.

Acceptable forms of financial responsibility in Tennessee include:

  • Your insurance policy binder
  • Your insurance card from an insurer licensed and authorized to do business in the state
  • Your insurance policy declaration’s page
  • Electronic proof of insurance

Failure to provide proof of financial responsibility upon request is a Class C misdemeanor. Penalties include suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and potentially being unable to renew your vehicle registration if a “STOP” is put on your car.

You may also have to file an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility form with the Tennessee Driver Services Center to show you will maintain the state-mandated coverage for five years minimum. The DMV may lift the SR-22 filing requirement if you don’t receive any more suspensions in those five years.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Every insured driver in Tennessee must pay a certain amount of their income for premiums every year. The table below details how much the average resident’s disposable income (after taxes) paid for auto insurance from 2012 – 2014.

YearFull CoverageDisposable IncomeInsurance as Percentage of Income
2012$794.53$35,916.002.21%
2013$829.38$35,668.002.33%
2014$855.56$36,909.002.32%

As shown, the average cost of Tennesseans’ premiums increased slightly in those three years. But every insured driver nationwide saw increases during that time.

In 2014, the average annual cost of car insurance nationwide was $981.77, which was more than $100 more than the 2014 Tennessee average of $855.56.

Tennessee borders Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia southward, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. Compared to Tennessee, North Carolina residents paid the lowest premiums, under $800 yearly, while Alabamians had the second-lowest rates.

Nearby Missourians paid an average of $10 less than Tennesseans yearly, while Arkansans, Mississippi residents, and Georgians paid higher premiums, at $900 or more yearly.

How much do you pay for car insurance? Try our free calculator below to find out.

CalculatorPro

Core Coverage

The coverage level data below comes from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs
Liability$413.91
Collision$309.07
Comprehensive $148.45
Full Coverage$871.43

You should expect rates to increase in 2019 and onward.

Next, let’s explore more liability coverage options you can add to your policy.

– Additional Liability

Additional liability will cover expenses beyond a standard policy. It includes the following:

  • Personal injury protection – It helps cover medical expenses for anyone involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Medical payments (MedPay) coverage – It pays for medical expenses for you and anyone else listed on your policy, regardless of who is responsible.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – It pays if you’re in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

The table below shows the average insurer’s loss ratio in Tennessee, based on NAIC data. A company’s loss ratio reveals how much it earns compared to the premiums it writes. A loss ratio higher than 100 percent means the company pays more in premiums and is taking losses on them. If it’s well below 100 percent, the company pays few claims.

Loss Ratio201420132012
Medical Payments (MedPay)69.1271.1775.43
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage68.0668.1367.06

The loss ratios above show that Tennessee car insurance companies have a good profit versus loss ratio for MedPay and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Tennessee currently ranks fifth nationwide for the highest number of uninsured drivers. Nearly 20 percent of motorists there take the wheel without coverage.

With so many uninsured drivers on the road, unfortunately, you never know what can happen. To protect yourself, your loved ones, and those around you, we recommend you buy uninsured/underinsured motorist and additional liability coverage.

Add-Ons, Endorsements, & Riders

The following are more types of coverage you can add to a basic car insurance policy in Tennessee:

Male vs. Female Rates

We’ve partnered with Quadrant to bring you the data below. It’s based on coverage the state population has purchased and includes rates for high-risk drivers and those who choose to buy more than the state minimum. It also includes other types of insurance the state doesn’t require.

As you’ll notice below, age, rather than gender, is a major factor in car insurance rates.

CompanyMarried 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old maleSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old male
Allstate P&C$2,796.09$2,684.61$2,516.49$2,612.46$10,516.65$11,441.86$2,980.14$3,082.46
Mid-Century Ins Co$1,817.48$1,850.03$1,631.91$1,788.38$7,410.65$7,883.17$2,457.63$2,601.27
Geico General$2,182.11$2,202.22$2,010.58$2,010.58$6,620.63$6,739.05$2,216.18$2,286.01
SAFECO Ins Co of IL$3,639.40$129.00$2,991.77$3,342.39$14,916.05$16,572.79$3,902.85$4,159.27
Nationwide Mutual$2,192.98$2,211.90$1,964.40$1,997.15$6,012.22$7,760.40$2,520.95$2,739.66
Progressive Hawaii$1,864.12$1,757.10$1,519.40$1,588.93$8,386.68$9,440.45$2,246.65$2,451.94
State Farm Mutual Auto$1,612.16$1,612.16$1,452.60$1,452.60$4,907.17$6,139.77$1,821.23$2,116.70
Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co$1,767.42$1,860.42$1,606.70$1,710.20$4,956.52$6,143.14$1,882.49$1,981.27
USAA$1,548.81$1,577.29$1,397.27$1,398.41$5,501.37$6,309.85$2,023.45$2,157.82

Insurers tend to charge 17-year-olds, the youngest and least experienced drivers, the highest rates. Rates decrease dramatically by age 25 — by as much as $6,000 for females. From ages 25 – 60 in Tennessee, on average, the price gaps amount to hundreds, not thousands, of dollars.

Cheapest Rates by Zip Code

Where you live can affect how much you pay for your car insurance premiums.

Generally, drivers in the bigger cities of Nashville and Memphis (zip code 38118 and others) pay more for car insurance than their countryside cousins (like in Dickson). And, as you can see, the rates vary greatly among insurers. In Memphis, for instance, with Travelers and USAA, residents come close to paying the state average, $3,660.89.

Cheapest Rates by City

According to our data, annual car insurance for Memphis drivers averages $3,699.11, while in Nashville, it’s up to $4,745.79 — a $1,100 difference.

 Best TN Car Insurance Companies

One of the perks of modern life is freedom of choice. But, if you like to think carefully about major decisions, such as buying car insurance, having a lot of options can be more of a curse than a blessing.

So, to ease your decision-making process, below we give you data about the financial strength of the top insurers and company reviews and ratings. These are not soft skills to make a business run. These are heavy hitters.

Are you ready to learn more?

The Largest Companies’ Financial Rating

A.M. Best evaluates insurance companies and ranks them based on their financial stability. Companies with a good score are more likely to be able to pay customers’ claims. These are A.M. Best’s ratings for the 10 largest insurers in the Volunteer State.

Insurance CompanyAM Best Rating
State FarmA++
Tennessee Farmers GroupA+
GeicoA++
ProgressiveA+
AllstateA+
USAAA++
Liberty MutualA
NationwideA+
Erie Insurance GroupA+
TravelersA++

State Farm, USAA, Geico, and Travelers have earned the highest rating of “A++,” a sign that these established companies have a solid financial footing.

Companies with Best Ratings

J.D. Power’s Auto Insurance Study rates the top insurance companies based on their overall customer satisfaction. These are their rankings for insurers in the Southeast region, including Tennessee.

JD Power 2019 Southeast Region

Farm Bureau Insurance was the only company to receive five “Power Circles,” which means that it’s “among the best.”

Another vital factor in customer satisfaction is the number of complaints an insurer gets. Let’s see which companies have the most.

Companies with Most Complaints in Tennessee

A complaint ratio reveals how many complaints a company receives per $1 million of business.

Even the best customer relationships don’t always end with total satisfaction. When a consumer is dissatisfied, they can file a complaint. Those complaints add to a company’s complaint ratios, and some are based on general customer satisfaction and are averaged together.

The table shows the NAIC’s most recent complaint data for the 10vlargest Tennessee car insurance companies.

Insurance CompanyNational Median Complaint RatioCompany Complaint Ratio 2017Total Complaints 2017
State Farm10.441,482
Tennessee Farmers Group10.6739
Geico10.68333
Progressive10.75120
Allstate10.5163
USAA10.74296
Liberty Mutual15.95222
Nationwide10.2825
Erie Insurance Group10.722
Travelers10.092

All of the companies listed, except Liberty Mutual, fell below the national average of “one.”  The company’s complaint ratio was nearly six times worse than the national average. Bear in mind, however, that their market share in the state is fairly low, at 5 percent.

If you have a complaint against an insurance company in Tennessee, you may file one online.

Cheapest Companies in Tennessee

Now we’re going to explore which carriers, on average, provide the best rates statewide.

CompanyAverageCompared to State Average
Allstate P&C$4,828.85$1,167.9624.19%
Mid-Century Ins Co$3,430.07-$230.82-6.73%
Geico General$3,283.42-$377.47-11.50%
SAFECO Ins Co of IL$6,206.69$2,545.8041.02%
Nationwide Mutual$3,424.96-$235.93-6.89%
Progressive Hawaii$3,656.91-$3.98-0.11%
State Farm Mutual Auto$2,639.30-$1,021.59-38.71%
Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co$2,738.52-$922.37-33.68%
USAA$2,739.28-$921.60-33.64%

Compared to the average annual statewide premium cost of $3,660.89, SAFECO had the highest rates in Tennessee, while State Farm had the lowest. Overall, there was a $4,000 price difference between the two carriers.

Commute Rates by Companies

Here’s how the top insurers in the state compare for average commute times.

Group10-mile commute. 6,000 annual mileage. 25-mile commute. 12,000 annual mileage.
Allstate$4,828.85$4,828.85
Farmers$3,430.06$3,430.06
Geico$3,263.57$3,303.27
Liberty Mutual$6,206.69$6,206.69
Nationwide$3,424.96$3,424.96
Progressive$3,656.91$3,656.91
State Farm$2,576.56$2,702.04
Travelers$2,630.93$2,846.10
USAA$2,661.90$2,816.66

As it turns out, many of the carriers listed don’t change their rates for ten-mile versus 25-mile commutes. Among those who do, Geico had the lowest price difference between the two mileages, at only $40.

Coverage Level Rates by Companies

The amount of coverage you have, whether it’s liability, collision, comprehensive, or full, factors into your car insurance premium costs. Let’s see how much the price may vary among the different coverage levels.

GroupLow CoverageMedium CoverageHigh Coverage
Allstate$4,645.25$4,816.41$5,024.87
Farmers$3,236.69$3,413.80$3,639.71
Geico$3,125.46$3,276.37$3,448.43
Liberty Mutual$5,938.19$6,204.78$6,477.10
Nationwide$3,450.27$3,350.97$3,473.64
Progressive$3,428.80$3,657.30$3,884.63
State Farm$2,492.73$2,651.21$2,773.95
Travelers$2,576.37$2,736.50$2,902.69
USAA$2,651.70$2,729.45$2,836.70

The price difference between the highest and lowest coverage levels can be as high as $500 with Liberty Mutual, or as low as $23 with Nationwide. So, full coverage — the best option for the most protection — is quite affordable, depending on the carrier you choose.

Credit History Rates by Companies

Your credit history can affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, qualify for a mortgage, or buy car insurance.

A study by Experian reveals that the average Tennessean has a credit card VantageScore of 662 and around 2.77 credit cards in their name. The average consumer there carries a credit card balance of $5,975. The average state credit score falls just under the national average of 675.

The data below reveals just how much poor, fair, and good credit scores can affect your car insurance rates.

GroupGood CreditFair CreditPoor Credit
Allstate$3,604.43$4,718.43$6,163.68
Farmers$3,019.09$3,191.56$4,079.54
Geico$2,933.59$3,190.30$3,726.36
Liberty Mutual$4,266.12$5,455.32$8,898.63
Nationwide$2,894.15$3,265.47$4,115.26
Progressive$3,314.09$3,545.77$4,110.86
State Farm$1,785.62$2,299.30$3,832.98
Travelers$1,996.22$2,735.47$3,483.87
USAA$1,918.82$2,326.47$3,972.56

Again, not all insurers charge the same prices. With Liberty Mutual, for drivers with poor and good credit scores, there’s a $4,600 difference in car insurance costs. But, with Progressive, the difference is as low as $800.

Driving Record Rates by Companies

Your driving history also affects how much you pay for car insurance premiums. As you can see below, even one DUI will skyrocket your rates by a thousand dollars or more.

GroupClean RecordOne Speeding ViolationOne AccidentOne DUI
Allstate$4,043.94$4,625.86$4,821.64$5,823.95
Farmers$2,930.61$3,457.46$3,622.99$3,709.20
Geico$2,386.13$2,386.13$3,197.12$5,164.31
Liberty Mutual$5,031.00$5,789.80$7,257.06$6,748.89
Nationwide$2,961.85$3,322.14$2,961.85$4,454.01
Progressive$3,221.09$3,794.09$4,182.08$3,430.36
State Farm$2,406.95$2,639.30$2,871.65$2,639.30
Travelers$2,220.52$2,731.56$2,851.81$3,150.18
USAA$1,992.65$2,470.89$2,984.18$3,509.42

Depending on the severity of the driving offense, your rates may not increase much. For the most serious offense of a DUI, Geico raises rates by nearly $3,000.

Largest Car Insurance Companies in Tennessee

The data below uses market share, loss ratio, and the number of direct premiums written to show which top insurers are the largest.

Company NameDirect Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
State Farm$948,60462.03%23.23%
Tennessee Farmers Group$654,61374.33%16.03%
Geico$348,05969.97%8.52%
Progressive$311,70661.15%7.63%
Allstate$254,28547.23%6.23%
USAA$221,58571.72%5.43%
Liberty Mutual$211,92862.66%5.19%
Nationwide $171,16668.01%4.19%
Erie Insurance Group$114,50876.69%2.80%
Travelers$84,32964.98%2.06%

State Farm — also the top insurer nationwide — ranks first, with a decent loss ratio and the largest market share (23 percent) and number of direct premiums written (close to a million).

Number of Insurers in Tennessee

Foreign companies were formed in other states but are licensed to operate in Tennessee, while domestic insurers were incorporated in the Volunteer State.

Property & Casualty InsuranceAmount
Domestic15
Foreign930
Total945

Most of the insurers in Tennessee were founded in other states but do business there.

Compare Insurance Quotes

Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

 Tennessee Laws

Laws control many parts of daily life, including car insurance and the claims process. Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse. If you’re not aware of local laws, you might not know that you have certain rights that protect you.

This section is here to inform you about the car insurance and related laws in the Volunteer State, including windshield coverage, high-risk insurance, and insurance fraud. Best of all, it’s in plain English, not legalese.

Read on to find out more.

Car Insurance Laws

State laws have considerable influence on auto insurance.  Let’s discover how they’re determined.

How State Laws for Insurance Are Determined

Each state determines the type of tort law and threshold (if any) that applies, the type and amount of liability insurance to require, and the system they use to approve insurer rates and forms.

Insurance companies in Tennessee are subject to the regulations the state insurance commissioner sets per the fair competition standards of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). To set rates and file forms, insurers in the Volunteer State must get prior approval from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Windshield Coverage

According to CarWindshields.Info, Tennessee doesn’t have any specific laws regarding windshield replacement (including parts) or repair.

In the Volunteer State, however, it’s illegal to drive with a windshield that obstructs your view of the road. So, if you have major cracks or chips in your windshield, a police officer may pull you over and give you a ticket.

You may be able to get a zero-deductible with windshield coverage under a comprehensive car insurance policy. Not every carrier offers it, but you may be able to find the right policy for you. While you research plans, look at how the different insurance providers handle windshield claims.

High-Risk Insurance

High-risk insurance helps drivers with a history of accidents or traffic violations who can’t buy coverage through a standard insurance carrier.

If you couldn’t get insurance in the past 60 days and have a valid driver’s license and a vehicle registered in Tennessee, you may qualify for the Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan (TNAIP).

This state-administered program lets insurance companies share the risk associated with your policy among a pool of other insurers. You may, however, end up paying more for insurance compared to standard premiums.

To apply for TNAIP, contact any licensed car insurance agent, and they will help you fill out and submit an application.

To qualify, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • Confirm in your application that you applied for car insurance through the open market in the past 60 days and were denied coverage.
  • Complete the application thoroughly and truthfully. If a carrier can’t validate your information, they could deny you coverage.
  • Pay any money you owe on prior premiums 12 months before your application.
  • For car damage coverage, have your vehicle undergo an inspection.

If TNAIP rejects your application, you must wait another 12 months before you can reapply.

If you qualify for insurance through TNAIP, your policy will be active for three years. During those three years, if you qualify for better insurance coverage through another carrier, you may switch. You must notify your current insurance provider before you do so. The insurer must refund any outstanding premiums, minus a 10 percent early-termination fee.

You may pay for your TNAIP auto insurance premiums in the following ways:

  • Pay the full amount owed upfront
  • Pay 30 percent of the premium when you submit your application and the rest after 30 days.
  • Pay 25 percent of the premium at the start, and the remainder spread out over five monthly installment payments after six months.

Installment plans carry a $4 processing fee.

Low-Cost Insurance

Though Tennessee has a program to help high-risk drivers, it doesn’t have one for low-income drivers.

California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are the only states with government-funded programs to help low-income drivers pay for their car insurance.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in Tennessee

Insurance fraud is the second-largest economic crime in America. It affects premium rates and the prices consumers pay for goods and services. If those fraud numbers continue to rise, it’s more likely that insurers will pass some of the costs in investigating them on to you in higher premiums.

There are two types of fraud: hard and soft.

  • Hard Fraud – A purposefully fabricated claim or accident
  • Soft Fraud – A misrepresentation of information to the insurance company

Soft fraud is more common than hard fraud. Twenty to 40 percent of consumers admitted to lying to their insurers about one of the following:

  • The number of annual miles driven
  • The number of drivers in the household
  • How they will use the vehicle

Even the little white lie you tell to get a lower rate has consequences. That intentional misrepresentation of facts is known as “rate evasion” and costs auto insurers $16 billion annually. They pass those costs onto consumers in the form of higher premiums.

In Tennessee, committing insurance fraud through intentionally misrepresenting facts or making false claims for money or other benefits is a crime. Based on the severity of the offense, the criminal penalties for insurance fraud are as follows:

  • Class A Misdemeanor – For $500 or less in services or property gained, fewer than 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500
  • Class E Felony – For $500 – $1,000 gained, 1 – 6 years in prison and a fine no more than $3,000
  • Class D Felony – For $1,000 – $10,000 gained, 2 – 12 years in prison and a fine no more than $5,000
  • Class C Felony – For $10,000 – $60,000 gained, 3 – 15 years in prison and a fine no more than $10,000
  • Class B Felony – For $60,000 or more gained, 8 – 30 years in prison and a fine no more than $25,000

Those convicted of insurance fraud may also owe restitution to their victims. Insurance fraud crimes can also be processed administratively and through civil court.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Fraud Investigation unit and the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office investigate insurance fraud.  You can report fraud through an online form or call (800) 792-7573.

You are also welcome to file a complaint in person at the State of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Davy Crockett Building, 500 James Robertson Parkway, 6th Floor in Nashville.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the time you have left to file a legal claim. In Tennessee, drivers have three years to file an insurance fraud claim. Below are the limits for accident and related claims:

  • Personal injury claims: one year from the date of the accident.
  • Wrongful death claims: one year from the date of the victim’s death.

Evidence can degrade and witnesses can be hard to keep track of over time, so it’s best to file sooner rather than later.

The law firm video below goes into more detail about Tennessee’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims:

Vehicle Licensing Laws

In this section, we’ll go over Volunteer State laws for getting and renewing a driver’s license and the state’s “points” system for penalties.

REAL ID

Tennessee is among the states that comply with the federal REAL ID program of verified identity protection for driver’s licenses and state IDs.

The proposed federal program slated to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020, allows REAL ID holders to enter federal buildings and board domestic flights. The program stems from national security measures and federal identification standards adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

To get a REAL ID–compliant license, visit a Tennessee Driver Services Center and bring the following documents:

  • Proof of your social security number
  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent resident status, or authorized stay in the U.S.
  • Proof of any name changes (if applicable)
  • Two proofs of state residency from within the past four months — these must include your name and physical address; the Center won’t accept P.O. box addresses

Once you have your first REAL ID–compliant license, you’ll be able to renew online, at a self-service kiosk, or through the County Clerk’s Office.

The news report below goes into more detail about REAL ID:

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

As we mentioned earlier, you must carry an acceptable form of proof of insurance in case of a car accident or whenever law enforcement pulls you over.

Driving without car insurance or proof of financial responsibility is a Class C misdemeanor. Drivers who commit this offense may face the following penalties:

  • Fines up to $300
  • Suspension of their driver’s licenses
  • STOP on their cars, preventing them from renewing their registrations

Drivers who can’t provide proof of insurance must pay a $25 coverage failure fee in 30 days. If they don’t pay this fee, they will be charged an additional $100 and have their licenses and registrations revoked. Reinstatement costs $115 in total. They may also need to pass another licensing exam.

After any conviction leading to a driver’s license suspension, your insurance carrier must file an SR-22 on your behalf with the Tennessee Department of Safety. The SR-22 is proof of insurance that can be filed for five years but may be canceled after three if you have no more suspensions.

The state of Tennessee uses an online insurance verification system. If a driver shows up as uninsured, the Department of Revenue will request they provide proof of insurance within 15 days.

If you get into an accident that causes bodily injury or death while you’re uninsured, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face more penalties. A conviction carries fines up to $2,500 and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, and other potential expenses if the injured party decides to sue.

Teen Driver Laws

Teen drivers in Tennessee must go through a graduated licensing program that grants them a permit before they qualify for a full license. Below are the state requirements for getting a learner’s permit.

At age 15, young drivers can qualify for a learner’s permit. To move to an intermediate license, they must:

  • Hold their learner’s permit for at least six months
  • Complete a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be at night

To graduate to the intermediate licensing stage, young drivers must be at least 16 years old. These are the restrictions during the intermediate stage:

  • No unsupervised driving from 11 p.m. – 6 a.m.
  • No more than one non-family member passenger

These restrictions can be lifted after 12 months when the driver is at least 17 years old or once the driver turns 18, whichever happens first.

Older Driver & General Population License Renewal Procedures

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these are Tennessee license renewal procedures for older drivers and the general public:

  • Renew once every eight years
  • Proof of adequate vision isn’t required
  • You can renew by mail or online

The commissioner may issue an initial license or renew a license that shall remain valid for three to eight years to transition from a five-year to an eight-year license.

New Residents

After you move to the Volunteer State, you have 30 days to apply for a Tennessee driver’s license. You must apply in person and bring the following documents:

  • Your current driver’s license or other acceptable ID or certified copy of your driving record. A certified copy, called a Motor Vehicle Record or MVR, must be original and have been issued at least 30 days before your application.
  • Proof of name change (if applicable), such as a marriage certificate, certified court order, or divorce decree.
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency, such as a utility bill, voter registration, or lease agreement with your name and residential address. The documents must be from the past four months.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Residence Status, Proof of Authorized Stay, or Temporary Legal Presence in the U.S.
  • Your social security number or a sworn affidavit stating you haven’t been issued one

When you apply for a Tennessee license, you will need to give up your out-of-state license and undergo a vision screening. If your license has been expired for six months or more, you’ll also need to take the Tennessee knowledge exam and road skills test.

Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security assigns points for driving offenses, which can ultimately lead to a driver’s license suspension or revocation. These are some of the points the state assigns for common driving offenses:

  • Speeding over the posted limit by:
    • 1 – 5 mph: 1 point
    • 6 – 15 mph: 3 points
    • 16 – 25 mph: 4 points
  • Reckless driving: 4 points
  • Careless or negligent driving: 4 points
  • Failure to signal direction or to reduce speed suddenly: 3 points
  • Blocking traffic: 3 points
  • Distracted driving: 3 points
  • Driving without a license: 3 points
  • Improper passing: 4 points
  • Operating a vehicle while using a cellphone (under 18): 6 points

Tennessee’s Driver Improvement program was established to monitor the driving records of Tennessee drivers who have amassed several points.

Adult drivers who gain 12 or more points on their records in 12 months will receive a notice of proposed suspension. The Tennessee Department of Safety will also give them a chance to attend an administrative hearing. If the driver fails to attend, the Department will suspend their driving privileges for six to 12 months.

Those who request a hearing can attend a defensive driving class in lieu of suspension or a reduction of suspension time.

Drivers younger than age 18 who accumulate six or more points on their records in 12 months will receive a notice of proposed suspension. The Department of Safety will also place them in the Driver Improvement Program.

Young drivers will need to attend an administrative hearing with a parent or guardian, and as a result, the Department may decide to take certain actions.

To check the status of points on your license, you can log in to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s online services or call 615-251-5166.

For a full driving history, you may order a report at a driver service center or by mail at Tennessee Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security, MVR Request, P.O. Box 945, Nashville, TN, 37202.

Rules of the Road

These are some of the laws you should obey for safe driving and to avoid severe penalties.

Fault vs. No-Fault

As we explained earlier, drivers who cause accidents in Tennessee are “at fault” or responsible for paying medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other losses. If the “at-fault” driver has insurance, their insurer will pay for those losses up to the policy limits, and the driver will likely pay the rest.

Regarding filing accident claims or lawsuits, Tennessee follows modified comparative fault in assigning a percentage of blame for damage awards.

The state uses a “50 percent rule.” Under this rule, an accident victim may only collect damages if a judge or jury determines that the plaintiff’s fault for the injury is 49 percent or below. If they find the plaintiff’s percentage of liability is 50 percent or more, they won’t receive an award.

This law firm video explains more about the state’s comparative fault law:

Seat Belt & Car Seat Laws

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers and passengers in the front seat age 16 years and older must wear a seat belt in Tennessee. Otherwise, they may face fines of up to $30 for a first offense.

The state’s car seat and child-seating laws are as follows:

  • Children younger than one year and 19 pounds or less must sit in a rear-facing car seat
  • Children between one and three years old who weigh 20 pounds or more must sit in a forward-facing car seat with a harness
  • Children between four and eight years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must sit in a forward-facing booster seat
  • Children aged nine or any child 12 or younger who is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall must sit in a standard seat with a seat belt; an adult belt is allowed for children ages nine to 15, and any child 12 or younger taller than 4 feet 9 inches
  • Children nine years and younger and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must sit in the backseat of a vehicle if one is available. The state prefers that children sit in the back seat until they reach age 12.

The fine for a first offense is $50.

Regarding cargo areas of pick up trucks, Tennessee lets passengers sit there if they’re age 12 or older. If the vehicle is being driven on city or county roads, children ages 6 – 11 can sit in the cargo area (unless local laws prohibit it). Other situations where restrictions are lifted include agricultural activities and parades if the vehicle is traveling slower than 20 mph.

Keep Right & Move Over Laws

“Keep right” laws: Tennessee’s “Slow Poke” or Keep Right Law prohibits drivers from traveling in the passing lane on an interstate or multilane, divided highway with three or more lanes in each direction. An exception to this rule is when a driver is overtaking or passing a vehicle in a “non-passing” lane. Violators receive a $50 fine.

Drivers are expected to move to the right if they’re driving slower than other drivers around them to let faster traffic pass.

“Move over” laws: Drivers nearing a stationary emergency, municipal, utility, recovery, or maintenance vehicle with flashing lights going in the same direction must slow down and move to the closest lane, if safe to do so.

Speed Limits

The maximum posted speed limits in Tennessee are as follows:

  • 70 mph on rural and urban interstates
  • 70 mph on other limited-access roads
  • 65 mph on other roads

It’s not just illegal to drive over the posted speed limit in Tennessee, it’s also unlawful to drive under it. You may slow down, however, when driving conditions change because of weather or heavy traffic. You should lower your speed at those times to drive safely and protect yourself and others.

Ridesharing

Like other states, Tennessee has certain insurance and driving regulations for rideshare drivers, as follows:

  • Drivers must always carry proof of insurance that notes they drive for a Transportation Network Company (TNC)
  • Any time a TNC driver is logged into their company app but not ridesharing, they must carry minimum liability insurance: $50,000 for injury per one person, $100,000 for injuries per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident
  • Any time a TNC driver is logged into their company app and ridesharing, they must have minimum liability insurance of $1,000,000 for death, injury, and property damage
  • Drivers may not conduct any cash transactions
  • Drivers must show a photo of themselves and their license plate number
  • Drivers must maintain two years of trip records

A driver’s insurance carrier may choose not to offer coverage when the driver provides ridesharing services. So, rideshare drivers may need two insurance policies — one for personal and one for professional driving.

Automation on the Road

Tennessee allows autonomous vehicles on its roads. The operator doesn’t need to be licensed or in the car but must maintain liability insurance of at least $5,000,000.

Other state laws regulating automated vehicles include:

  • When a car is in autonomous mode, it is legal for them to include a visible integrated electronic display for drivers
  • When the autonomous function in a vehicle is correctly engaged and operated, the autonomous function can be considered the driver from a liability perspective

Safety Laws

Below are more regulations controlling safe driving in Tennessee: DUI laws, marijuana laws, and distracted driving laws.

DUI Laws

Drinking and driving remain a problem nationwide and in the Volunteer State. Responsibility.org reports that 251 alcohol-related fatalities occurred there in 2017 alone.

The blood alcohol (BAC) limit in Tennessee is 0.08, and a high BAC (HBAC) is 0.2.

The table below details the state’s penalties for DUIs:

Tennessee DUI LawsPenalties
BAC Limit0.08
High BAC Limit0.2
Criminal Status by Offense1st-3rd are class A misdemeanors. 4th+ in 10 years is a class E felony.
Formal Name for OffenseDriving Under the Influence (DUI)
Look Back Period/Washout Period 10 years
1st Offense - ALS or Revocation1 year.
1st Offense - Imprisonment48 hours to 11 months. With a HBAC: min 7 consecutive days.
1st Offense - Fine$350 - $1,500.
1st Offense - OtherDUI school is required. The court may require an IID and/or addiction treatment.
2nd Offense - DL Revocation2 years, restricted license available after 1 year.
2nd Offense - Imprisonment45 days to 11 months.
2nd Offense - Fine$600 to $10,000.
2nd Offense - OtherDUI school required, possible vehicle seizure, treatment may be required by court. An IID is required for 6 months after license reinstatement.
3rd Offense - DL Revocation6 to 10 years and no restricted license available.
3rd Offense - Imprisonment 120 days to 11 months.
3rd Offense - OtherDUI school required, possible vehicle seizure. An IID is required for 6 months after license reinstatement, treatment may be required by court.
4th Offense - DL Revocation5 years and no restricted license available.
4th Offense - Imprisonment 1 year with minimum 150 consecutive days served.
4th Offense - Fine $3,000 to $15,000.
4th Offense - Other Possible vehicle seizure, DUI school required, treatment may be required by court, IID required for 6 months after license reinstatement.
Mandatory InterlockAll offenders.

In Tennessee, a DUI will stay on your record for 10 years. Don’t take the risk of driving after you’ve been drinking — you’ll harm others and face severe penalties.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

According to DISA, marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, medical use included. There are currently no laws in Tennessee that regulate driving under the influence of marijuana.

Distracted Driving Laws

The state of Tennessee now bans all drivers from texting and using handheld devices. Drivers with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses are prohibited from using mobile devices entirely.

The fine for a first offense is $50. If an officer catches you in a work or school zone, that fee quadruples to $200. For multiple offenses or an accident you cause through handheld use, there is a $100 fine.

Find out more about Tennessee’s new “hands-free” law in the news report below:

Driving in Tennessee

A driver’s license gives you freedom, but the privilege comes with some risks. Most importantly, you’re responsible for driving safely to protect yourself and others. In this section, we feature data about some of the worst hazards of car ownership — vehicle thefts and fatal accidents.

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. After all, these statistics are sobering and remind us of the dangers on the road in the Volunteer State.

So, read on to find out the truth about some of the biggest hazards on and off the road.

Vehicle Theft in Tennessee

The table below shows the top 10 stolen vehicles in Tennessee as of 2016, together with the most popular model year.

Make/ModelYear of VehicleNumber of Thefts
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)1999690
Ford Pickup (Full Size)
1997510
Honda Accord1996383
Nissan Altima2015297
Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
2001264
Chevrolet Impala2008263
Honda Civic2000258
Toyota Camry2016238
GMC Pickup (Full Size)2000221
Nissan Maxima1997206

Older pickups, instead of cars, topped the list — the 1999 Chevrolet and 1997 Ford full-size versions. The Honda Accord and the Civic model made the top five, and they remain popular with vehicle thieves in other states, too.

Vehicle Theft by City

Now, let’s see where vehicle thefts occur most often in Tennessee. The following Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data from 2017 shows the number of vehicles stolen in various towns and cities across Tennessee.

City/TownPopulationMotor Vehicle Theft
Adamsville2,2075
Alamo2,4522
Alcoa10,12849
Alexandria9743
Algood4,3232
Ardmore1,2180
Ashland City4,64213
Athens13,78377
Atoka9,1973
Baileyton4342
Bartlett58,89557
Baxter1,4132
Bean Station3,0906
Belle Meade2,9752
Bells2,4233
Benton1,3071
Berry Hill5362
Big Sandy5331
Blaine1,8792
Bluff City1,6518
Bolivar5,06618
Bradford9890
Brentwood43,46817
Brighton2,9495
Bristol27,17674
Brownsville9,69823
Bruceton1,4271
Burns1,4750
Calhoun4980
Camden3,5466
Carthage2,2831
Caryville2,16115
Celina1,4872
Centerville3,5642
Chapel Hill1,4810
Charleston6780
Chattanooga178,7531,342
Church Hill6,7394
Clarksburg3840
Clarksville153,294241
Cleveland44,778225
Clifton2,6532
Clinton10,14648
Collegedale12,00515
Collierville49,79031
Collinwood9633
Columbia38,03179
Cookeville32,860135
Coopertown4,4551
Cornersville1,2521
Covington8,90924
Cowan1,6781
Cross Plains1,7361
Crossville11,55555
Crump1,3903
Cumberland City2980
Dandridge2,9834
Dayton7,26212
Decatur1,5719
Decaturville8763
Decherd2,4260
Dickson15,63755
Dover1,4500
Dresden2,8252
Dunlap5,18531
Dyer2,2254
Dyersburg16,61244
Eagleville6740
East Ridge21,35191
Elizabethton13,77137
Elkton5410
Englewood1,5309
Erin1,2770
Erwin5,8949
Estill Springs2,0313
Ethridge4820
Etowah3,51211
Fairview8,6486
Fayetteville7,09923
Franklin76,99530
Friendship6580
Gadsden4610
Gainesboro9441
Gallatin36,68922
Gallaway6532
Gates6110
Gatlinburg4,24717
Germantown39,08627
Gibson3760
Gleason1,3812
Goodlettsville17,11931
Gordonsville1,2097
Grand Junction2750
Graysville1,5250
Greenbrier6,8537
Greeneville15,06566
Greenfield2,0770
Harriman6,19619
Henderson6,5893
Hendersonville58,03444
Henry4622
Hohenwald3,66622
Hollow Rock6850
Hornbeak3860
Humboldt8,21012
Huntingdon3,8994
Jacksboro1,9290
Jackson67,031149
Jamestown1,9640
Jasper3,3719
Jefferson City8,35110
Jellico2,2196
Johnson City67,193158
Jonesborough5,3787
Kenton1,2080
Kimball1,3876
Kingsport52,810204
Kingston5,82310
Kingston Springs2,7650
Knoxville187,5391,036
Lafayette5,25115
La Follette6,89726
Lawrenceburg10,78027
Lebanon32,24884
Lenoir City9,18722
Lewisburg11,68412
Lexington7,79227
Livingston4,0616
Lookout Mountain1,8920
Loretto1,7606
Loudon5,8115
Madisonville4,80525
Manchester10,70219
Martin10,6565
Maryville28,91844
Mason1,5742
Maury City6642
Maynardville2,3486
McEwen1,7122
McKenzie5,6105
McMinnville13,78642
Medina4,2902
Memphis652,7654,002
Middleton6411
Milan7,7808
Millersville6,7927
Millington10,94440
Minor Hill5190
Monteagle1,1691
Monterey2,86712
Morristown29,774111
Moscow5240
Mountain City2,4311
Mount Carmel5,4273
Mount Juliet34,88852
Mount Pleasant4,90211
Munford6,0798
Murfreesboro136,102269
Nashville Metropolitan674,9422,565
Newbern3,2881
New Johnsonville1,9091
New Market1,3662
Newport6,81632
New Tazewell2,7549
Niota7243
Nolensville7,8893
Norris1,6453
Oakland7,8840
Oak Ridge29,35565
Obion1,0641
Oliver Springs3,25518
Oneida3,7168
Paris10,19425
Parsons2,3553
Petersburg5440
Pigeon Forge6,25462
Pikeville1,6565
Piperton1,7253
Pittman Center5821
Plainview2,0352
Pleasant View4,3826
Portland12,71011
Pulaski7,74213
Puryear6721
Red Bank11,83836
Red Boiling Springs1,1423
Ridgely1,6933
Ridgetop2,0610
Ripley8,0678
Rockwood5,42424
Rocky Top1,77923
Rogersville4,3678
Rossville8481
Rutherford1,1011
Rutledge1,2012
Saltillo5006
Savannah7,02328
Scotts Hill9863
Selmer4,4768
Sevierville16,99167
Sharon8971
Shelbyville21,61847
Signal Mountain8,6240
Smithville4,71715
Smyrna50,091106
Sneedville1,3402
Soddy-Daisy13,26426
Somerville3,1395
South Carthage1,3481
South Fulton2,2381
South Pittsburg3,0976
Sparta5,10113
Spencer1,6341
Spring City1,9900
Springfield16,86931
Spring Hill39,36611
St. Joseph7900
Sunbright5440
Surgoinsville1,7851
Sweetwater5,95724
Tazewell2,2918
Tellico Plains9526
Tiptonville4,3312
Toone3350
Townsend4451
Tracy City1,4188
Trenton4,1160
Trezevant8310
Trimble6210
Troy1,2750
Tullahoma19,38629
Tusculum2,6721
Union City10,54427
Vonore1,5067
Wartburg9031
Wartrace6580
Watertown1,5370
Waverly4,1398
Waynesboro2,3476
Westmoreland2,3281
White Bluff3,4832
White House11,59110
White Pine2,2703
Whiteville4,4811
Whitwell1,7209
Winchester8,57314
Winfield9570
Woodbury2,7995

Larger cities like Clarksville and Chattanooga tended to have more vehicle thefts than smaller cities and towns.

Road Fatalities in Tennessee

Weather, light condition, impaired drivers, and speed are among the biggest causes of deaths on the highways.

Let’s look at how many have occurred throughout the Volunteer State.

Most Fatal Highway in Tennessee

Geotab reports that I-40 — which connects Tennessee’s three largest cities — is the most fatal highway, with more than 43 crash deaths every year.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition & Light Condition

Let’s see how weather and light conditions have affected accident fatalities throughout the Volunteer State.

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LitDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
Normal443134236223838
Rain5118243096
Snow/Sleet101002
Other1463014
Unknown212049
TOTAL498157269287959

Most deaths occurred under normal daylight conditions.

Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

Below is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Report data on road fatalities in Tennessee by county from 2013 – 2017.

CountyTotal Fatalities 2013Total Fatalities 2014Total Fatalilties 2015Total Fatalities 2016Total Fatalities 2017Fatalities Per 100K 2013Fatalities Per 100K 2014Fatalities Per 100K 2015Fatalities Per 100K 2016Fatalities Per 100K 2017
Anderson County10186151113.2923.967.9519.8514.42
Bedford County159127432.9119.4625.5914.768.31
Benton County11653267.2537.0930.8818.6812.51
Bledsoe County00107006.9047.56
Blount County252327181620.0218.2821.2914.0412.31
Bradley County892011157.868.7519.2710.5414.21
Campbell County9121511122.3830.0837.827.732.52
Cannon County3061321.89043.627.1921.1
Carroll County9746531.4824.6814.3121.4917.95
Carter County6367510.545.3310.6412.48.85
Cheatham County4765710.1717.6715.1612.5917.36
Chester County3331117.5717.5417.565.855.84
Claiborne County69511518.9828.5515.8634.8515.82
Clay County2112225.9513.0913.0226.0125.96
Cocke County106811328.3117.0422.8131.298.44
Coffee County101214131718.7622.4225.8823.8830.89
Crockett County3222320.5413.6613.7213.8220.73
Cumberland County1191519719.1915.5625.8132.4611.85
Davidson County716476717510.769.5511.1610.3110.85
Decatur County2413817.1534.258.6225.6268.08
Dekalb County6351631.3915.6125.945.1430.22
Dickson County10615161619.9511.8929.2230.8230.27
Dyer County76611918.3815.8715.8829.2524.02
Fayette County56312912.8815.377.6530.3222.48
Fentress County3451816.7522.42285.5744.11
Franklin County779551716.9621.7812.0312
Gibson County6658512.1612.1510.1616.2910.18
Giles County991110831.2431.223834.3227.21
Grainger County3766513.1930.6126.2625.9621.6
Greene County151115221821.9616.0721.932.0926.16
Grundy County10402174.3629.91015.067.48
Hamblen County12106101219.0515.899.4715.6918.67
Hamilton County434242392712.3211.9811.8710.897.47
Hancock County1202915.0930.19030.32136.36
Hardeman County5525619.0219.287.7619.6323.58
Hardin County41039815.4338.7711.6534.9430.95
Hawkins County6149111410.6124.841619.5224.8
Haywood County131093871.4155.0550.0816.8545.52
Henderson County94914932.214.2932.1850.3732.43
Henry County44931312.4112.4289.340.06
Hickman County85451333.0620.4716.4220.2852.28
Houston County5151160.4512.1761.5612.3212.18
Humphreys County5467827.422.0433.0738.0843.28
Jackson County2342617.3226.0434.7117.2451.38
Jefferson County1611117830.712120.7613.1714.87
Johnson County6340633.3416.7322.43033.92
Knox County605654705713.5112.511.9615.3512.34
Lake County1011112.99013.213.2813.39
Lauderdale County5546718.1418.2714.8523.6727.7
Lawrence County458669.5411.8518.8513.9613.83
Lewis County0121408.4116.838.3933.24
Lincoln County8679623.917.9620.8626.8417.78
Loudon County711681413.9121.7711.815.626.84
Macon County7548630.9721.817.334.1124.92
Madison County161618131316.2116.3218.4613.3313.31
Marion County61159921.238.817.6231.7831.66
Marshall County8142125.753.212.686.263.04
Maury County171910181920.3522.2611.4420.0920.62
Mcminn County71311161213.3824.7420.9830.3822.69
Mcnairy County84107530.7415.3738.6727.1219.23
Meigs County6547451.542.7433.9458.5933.15
Monroe County11111091324.3424.2421.8919.5828.11
Montgomery County222827283011.9514.8214.0214.3714.99
Moore County1200215.9231.760031.33
Morgan County6283627.79.2237.2313.8127.73
Obion County6622419.3519.476.546.5513.16
Overton County8653436.4127.3422.6613.6518.17
Perry County3505438.0863.95063.3650.16
Pickett County1200219.9839.460039.42
Polk County5662730.0635.9635.7911.9341.77
Putnam County77517109.469.346.6622.3312.87
Rhea County4392612.329.2227.856.1718.35
Roane County101111131418.8320.8220.8524.5726.4
Robertson County13118161119.3416.2111.6923.1315.67
Rutherford County27352543399.6112.138.3913.9812.3
Scott County2355109.0913.6522.8522.8445.48
Sequatchie County125336.8813.6734.1720.3520.36
Sevier County131616152013.9316.9216.7515.5320.48
Shelby County9910712013212210.5511.412.7914.0913.02
Smith County8982742.0247.341.6110.2735.65
Stewart County3466122.5630.2645.4645.547.49
Sullivan County272315161717.2814.79.610.2310.82
Sumner County14151122108.38.716.2812.285.45
Tipton County131056521.1316.248.139.818.15
Trousdale County3203138.4625.02030.159.92
Unicoi County3520216.6327.9311.25011.26
Union County3544415.7426.3320.8820.820.57
Van Buren County03124053.0717.5734.9969.66
Warren County146481735.1215.029.9519.841.82
Washington County128188109.576.3614.286.297.82
Wayne County4632423.7435.7417.991224.12
Weakley County10368229.298.8317.7323.836
White County7676626.7522.8826.5522.6822.43
Williamson County17161013258.547.84.735.9411.05
Wilson County202016231916.4115.9812.4617.3713.93

Shelby, Davidson, and Knox Counties were among those with the most crash deaths during the five years. They increased most from 2016 – 2017.

Traffic Fatalities

Below are the number of urban and rural traffic fatalities in Tennessee from 2013 – 2017.

TypeNumber of Fatalities
Rural Traffic Fatalities 500
Urban Traffic Fatalities 538

In recent years, many of the traffic fatalities happened in urban areas. In 2017, there was almost a tie — rural areas had just 38 fewer deaths than urban areas in Tennessee.

Fatalities by Person Type

These are the number of fatalities for 2013 – 2017 based on the type of person and vehicle.

Person TypeNumber
Occupants (Enclosed Vehicles)771
Motorcyclists134
Nonoccupants135

Most of the deaths involved passenger car and light pickup truck occupants, which may reflect a higher amount of these types of vehicles on the road.

Fatalities by Crash Type

Here is more information about the types of vehicles and the accidents that led to fatalities from 2013 – 2017.

Crash TypeNumber
Single Vehicle 585
Involving a Large Truck136
Involving Speeding166
Involving a Rollover261
Involving a Roadway Departure665
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)158

Most of the fatal crashes involved single vehicles and roadway departures — another reminder to drive safely at all times and in all conditions.

Five-Year Trend For the Top 10 Counties

These are the numbers of fatalities in the most populated Tennessee counties from 2013 – 2017.

CountyTotal Fatalities 2013Total Fatalities 2014Total Fatalities 2015Total Fatalities 2016Total Fatalities 2017
Shelby County99107120132122
Davidson County7164767175
Knox County6056547057
Rutherford County2735254339
Montgomery County2228272830
Hamilton County4342423927
Williamson County1716101325
Sevier County1316161520
Maury County1719101819
Wilson County2020162319

Many of the counties, including Shelby and Rutherford, saw increases in traffic fatalities in the five-year period.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

These stats highlight where you should pay the most attention to speeders.

CountyTotal Fatalities 2013Total Fatalities 2014Total Fatalities 2015Total Fatalities 2016Total Fatalities 2017Fatalities Per 100K 2013Fatalities Per 100K 2014Fatalities Per 100K 2015Fatalities Per 100K 2016Fatalities Per 100K 2017
Anderson County342323.995.322.653.972.62
Bedford County6221013.164.324.272.110
Benton County2001112.23006.236.26
Bledsoe County00002000013.59
Blount County7103335.617.952.372.342.31
Bradley County166340.985.845.782.873.79
Campbell County413009.952.517.5600
Cannon County0000100007.03
Carroll County4100013.993.53000
Carter County0220103.553.5501.77
Cheatham County130012.547.57002.48
Chester County101005.8605.8500
Claiborne County122203.166.346.356.340
Clay County0000000000
Cocke County00222005.75.695.62
Coffee County221703.753.741.8512.860
Crockett County0100006.83000
Cumberland County222313.493.463.445.131.69
Davidson County1514202192.272.092.943.051.3
Decatur County02003017.120025.53
Dekalb County101005.2305.1900
Dickson County6201011.973.9601.930
Dyer County200035.250008.01
Fayette County0201105.1202.532.5
Fentress County0000000000
Franklin County424119.724.859.682.412.4
Gibson County200114.05002.042.04
Giles County141203.4713.883.456.860
Grainger County0200008.75000
Greene County7214210.252.921.465.832.91
Grundy County2302014.8722.43015.060
Hamblen County432026.354.773.1603.11
Hamilton County1212131673.443.423.674.471.94
Hancock County0001400015.1660.61
Hardeman County0104103.86015.73.93
Hardin County120003.867.75000
Hawkins County241113.547.11.781.771.77
Haywood County03101016.525.5605.69
Henderson County110003.583.57000
Henry County111113.13.13.113.13.08
Hickman County201008.2604.100
Houston County2000024.180000
Humphreys County101005.4805.5100
Jackson County0100008.68000
Jefferson County152211.929.543.773.761.86
Johnson County2110211.115.585.61011.31
Knox County9101120122.032.232.444.382.6
Lake County0001000013.280
Lauderdale County100013.630003.96
Lawrence County210014.772.37002.3
Lewis County0000000000
Lincoln County110112.992.9902.982.96
Loudon County311005.961.981.9700
Macon County111204.424.364.338.530
Madison County421214.052.041.032.051.02
Marion County240127.0714.1103.537.04
Marshall County100103.22003.130
Maury County330313.593.5203.351.09
Mcminn County363335.7311.425.725.75.67
Mcnairy County3031011.53011.63.870
Meigs County02140017.18.4933.480
Monroe County122202.214.414.384.350
Montgomery County8781094.353.74.155.134.5
Moore County0000000000
Morgan County3000213.850009.24
Obion County300109.67003.280
Overton County100104.55004.550
Perry County1202012.6925.58025.340
Pickett County01000019.73000
Polk County3120318.035.9911.93017.9
Putnam County112021.351.332.6602.57
Rhea County112023.083.076.1906.12
Roane County210143.771.8901.897.54
Robertson County222102.982.952.921.450
Rutherford County846672.851.392.011.952.21
Scott County0200009.1000
Sequatchie County003120020.56.7813.57
Sevier County356233.225.296.282.073.07
Shelby County21283621282.242.983.842.242.99
Smith County150025.2526.280010.19
Stewart County113007.527.5722.7300
Sullivan County633263.841.921.921.283.82
Sumner County400042.370002.18
Tipton County122001.633.253.2500
Trousdale County1000012.820000
Unicoi County02101011.175.6205.63
Union County2210110.510.535.2205.14
Van Buren County01000017.69000
Warren County7212217.565.012.494.954.92
Washington County544323.993.183.172.361.56
Wayne County0101005.96060
Weakley County0102002.9405.960
White County3120111.463.817.5903.74
Williamson County310131.510.4900.461.33
Wilson County1136229.022.44.671.511.47

In recent years, the more populated counties, such as Shelby and Hamilton, had among the highest speeding-related crash deaths.

Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

These figures reveal just how deadly drunk driving can be, as it doesn’t affect just you, but those around you.

CountyTotal Fatalities 2013Total Fatalities 2014Total Fatalities 2015Total Fatalities 2016Total Fatalities 2017Fatalities Per 100K 2013Fatalities Per 100K 2014Fatalities Per 100K 2015Fatalities Per 100K 2016Fatalities Per 100K 2017
Anderson County361233.997.991.332.653.93
Bedford County10541121.9410.818.532.112.08
Benton County5121230.576.1812.356.2312.51
Bledsoe County00103006.9020.38
Blount County5594243.977.13.121.54
Bradley County529244.911.958.671.923.79
Campbell County212004.972.515.0400
Cannon County00002000014.07
Carroll County2211077.053.583.580
Carter County0122101.783.553.541.77
Cheatham County0322207.575.055.034.96
Chester County2010011.7105.8500
Claiborne County201206.3303.176.340
Clay County0001000013.010
Cocke County222225.665.685.75.695.62
Coffee County0365305.6111.099.195.45
Crockett County112006.856.8313.7200
Cumberland County331225.235.191.723.423.39
Davidson County26192824223.942.834.113.483.18
Decatur County02112017.128.628.5417.02
Dekalb County2000110.460005.04
Dickson County336215.985.9411.693.851.89
Dyer County232315.257.935.297.982.67
Fayette County221135.155.122.552.537.49
Fentress County102105.58011.25.570
Franklin County332037.297.274.8407.2
Gibson County111102.032.032.032.040
Giles County232226.9410.416.916.866.8
Grainger County03000013.12000
Greene County232432.934.382.925.834.36
Grundy County120007.4414.95000
Hamblen County131021.594.771.5803.11
Hamilton County101371272.873.711.983.351.94
Hancock County01004015.10060.61
Hardeman County110003.83.86000
Hardin County03032011.63011.657.74
Hawkins County0213503.551.785.328.86
Haywood County3102216.485.51011.2311.38
Henderson County121203.587.153.587.20
Henry County222136.216.26.223.19.24
Hickman County201118.2604.14.064.02
Houston County1011012.09012.3112.320
Humphreys County000110005.445.41
Jackson County0100308.680025.69
Jefferson County6111411.521.911.891.887.43
Johnson County102035.56011.21016.96
Knox County16171713143.63.83.772.853.03
Lake County1001012.990013.280
Lauderdale County100053.6300019.78
Lawrence County0100002.37000
Lewis County00002000016.62
Lincoln County211215.972.992.985.972.96
Loudon County422307.953.963.935.850
Macon County0102104.3608.534.15
Madison County747357.094.087.183.085.12
Marion County4212014.137.053.527.060
Marshall County0112003.23.176.260
Maury County731328.383.521.143.352.17
Mcminn County06512011.429.531.93.78
Mcnairy County111203.843.843.877.750
Meigs County120118.5817.108.378.29
Monroe County344216.648.818.754.352.16
Montgomery County4881072.174.234.155.133.5
Moore County01001015.880015.66
Morgan County200129.23004.69.24
Obion County0000100003.29
Overton County100104.55004.550
Perry County1101212.6912.79012.6725.08
Pickett County1100119.9819.730019.71
Polk County162016.0135.9611.9305.97
Putnam County103511.3503.996.571.29
Rhea County00202006.1906.12
Roane County520159.423.7901.899.43
Robertson County661438.938.841.465.784.27
Rutherford County484991.422.771.342.932.84
Scott County110244.554.5509.1418.19
Sequatchie County112006.886.8313.6700
Sevier County573255.367.43.142.075.12
Shelby County38293935404.053.094.163.734.27
Smith County2420110.521.0210.405.09
Stewart County123107.5215.1322.737.590
Sullivan County583423.25.111.922.561.27
Sumner County462222.373.481.141.121.09
Tipton County512028.131.623.2503.26
Trousdale County1101012.8212.51010.050
Unicoi County122025.5411.1711.25011.26
Union County0131005.2715.665.20
Van Buren County01001017.690017.42
Warren County6110615.052.52.49014.76
Washington County416133.190.84.760.792.35
Wayne County141105.9323.83660
Weakley County4110011.722.942.9500
White County3320111.4611.447.5903.74
Williamson County651363.022.440.471.372.65
Wilson County867636.564.795.454.532.2

The amount of alcohol-related crash deaths per 100,000 residents remained fairly consistent from 2013 – 2017. More populated counties like Knox and Hamilton saw more fatalities.

Teen Drinking & Driving

Responsibility.org reports that Tennessee’s average number of under-21 driving fatalities involving alcohol is 0.6 deaths per 100,000 population. The national average is higher, at 1.2.

The state Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is 0.08. If you’re under 21 in Tennessee, driving with a BAC level of 0.02 or higher will result in a DUI. Drivers under age 21 can be charged with a standard DUI or an “underage” DUI, which has fewer penalties.

An underage DUI is an option when the driver’s BAC is 0.02 or above and less than 0.08, but the arresting officer will decide based on the circumstances.

Below is more data about the state’s drunk driving arrests and fatalities:

Teens and Drunk DrivingDetails
Under 21 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities Per 100K of the Population0.6
Higher/Lower Than National Average (1.2)Lower
DUI Arrests (Under 18 Years Old)143
DUI Arrests (Under 18 Years Old ) Total Per Million People95.22

Drivers convicted of an underage DUI may have to complete community service (in place of jail time for a standard DUI), a fine of $250, and a one-year license suspension.

EMS Response Time

These are the EMS response times for crashes in Tennessee’s rural and urban areas.

TypeTime of Crash to EMS NotificationEMS Notification to EMS ArrivalEMS Arrival at Scene to Hospital ArrivalTime of Crash to Hospital Arrival Total Fatal Crashes
Rural8.9612.6550.0961.68455
Urban4.098.2133.6543.12502

As shown, the response time in urban areas is less than half that of rural areas. The difficulties first responders may have in finding and getting to rural addresses can affect response times.

Transportation in Tennessee

How far you commute and how much traffic congestion you may face on your route can be factors to consider while you shop for car insurance. Courtesy of Data USA, let’s see what the transportation situation is like in the Volunteer State.

The gray bars represent the U.S. and the orange ones show Tennessee.

Car Ownership

In 2017, the average Tennessee household owned two cars, which matches the national average.

Commute Time

According to Data USA, the average Tennessee driver commutes 23.9 minutes regularly, which is 1.6 minutes less than the national average of 25.5 minutes. A smaller number of Tennesseans, roughly 3 percent, have a “super commute” of 90 minutes or more — less than the U.S. average.

Commuter Transportation

In Tennessee, most drivers drove alone. At more than 80 percent, the number was about 5 percent higher than the national average.

Traffic Congestion

Tennessee’s two largest cities, Nashville and Memphis, made INRIX’s 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard for the most congested in the state. Here’s how many hours drivers there lost in traffic jams and how much those travel-related expenses, such as gas and repairs, cost them along their routes.

City Hours Lost in CongestionCost of Congestion Per DriverInner City Travel Time (minutes)Inner City Last Mile Speed (mph)
Memphis38$530319
Nashville87$1,221416

Compared to Memphis, Nashville drivers more than doubled their drive time and transportation costs due to congested traffic.

Hopefully, you don’t lose as much time in your travels.

We hope you found this guide helpful for making an informed decision about car insurance. If you’re ready, start comparing car insurance rates today.

About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

Leave a Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *