Tennessee : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country
Tennessee is a southern state that is divided into three sections by the Tennessee River, and each is distinct.
The east is in the Smokey Mountains with lots of parks and scenic areas.
Knoxville is a major city and has the University of Tennessee, and nearby is Oak Ridge, which was part of the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb.
The middle has more rolling hills and Nashville, the home of country music.
Nashville is the state capital and very popular as a tourist destination.
Chattanooga, to the south, has a lot of history in a relatively mountainous area.
The west is part of the Mississippi Delta and largely flat.
Memphis gave us Elvis.
Some say this is where rock and roll music was born.
The state has several historical battle sites from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Warnings & Dangers in Tennessee
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Memphis is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, and that may skew the stats. Tennessee is third in the country in crime per 100,000 at 672. The national average is around 400. Nashville is safe for the most part, as is Knoxville. Chattanooga has a reputation for crime. Most of the state is safe, but some areas are dangerous and should be avoided.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Taxis operate in many cities and are safe. The larger cities have public transportation and it is fairly safe but often not the cleanest. Nashville has a country music circuit that hits all the main spots in town. Memphis also has special buses for tourist areas. If you plan to leave the cities, it is a good idea to rent a car, as there is not much public transport in rural areas.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
In recent times, pickpockets have surged in Nashville in tourist areas. They target wallets, purses, and cell phones. Tourist areas of Memphis are also hot spots for pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Especially in the cities, you need to be watchful and protect your property.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Because of its location and geography, Tennessee is likely to have natural disasters. There are tornadoes, floods, severe storms, and some earthquakes. One survey ranked Tennessee as the fifth most dangerous state in the country. Still, most people feel they are safe in the state.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
There are areas in Memphis or Nashville where the risk of mugging or robbery is very high. The state has the highest rate of assaults per capita. In the rest of the state, there is little danger and muggings do not happen very often. Some areas are very dangerous, but most of the state is safe.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There was a bombing just before Christmas in Nashville in 2020, not officially called terrorism, but it is the kind of thing that can happen. They are not common in the state. A growing concern is a domestic terrorism from extremist groups.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The risk is fairly low for tourists, though there might be the occasional fake ticket being sold for an event on the street. Real estate scams are common but do not target people just visiting. Internet and phone scams are the greatest danger, with people trying to steal identities or get money from people in some way.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Tennessee has a strong tourist industry, and women traveling alone is very common. Most areas are safe, but some areas are not. It is dangerous for women to be out alone at night in the bigger cities, but that is true for men as well.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There is a lot of water in Tennessee. Big rivers and the creation of lakes by the TVA make the water supply plentiful. Cities provide treated water that is of high quality. No matter where you are in Tennessee, you are safe drinking the tap water.
Safest Places to Visit in Tennessee
The Smokey Mountain National Park in the east may be the safest area in the state.
The greatest danger there would be from a wild animal, and incidents are rare.
There are a lot of rural areas where there are interesting sites that are extremely safe.
The Jack Daniels distillery can be toured and is very safe in a small town.
Gatlinburg, near Knoxville, is a tourist area and a gateway to the Smokey Mountains and is very safe.
Downtown Nashville is a big tourist area with a lot of security.
Nashville was named one of the safest cities in the country for tourists by an international tourist group.
With common sense and basic precautions, this area is very safe.
While parts of Memphis are dangerous, the suburbs of Germantown and Collierville are the two safest cities in the state.
Tourist areas of Memphis are loaded with history and basically safe.
Places to Avoid in Tennessee
Certain areas of Memphis are very dangerous.
CBS News named it the third most dangerous city in the nation.
It has a violent crime rate of 1901 per 100,000 people.
The national average is 380.
There were 1900 murders in Memphis in 2019.
Memphis is ranked as the most dangerous some years because of its murder rate.
The north and south sides of the city are the most dangerous.
The eastern side seems like a different world and is very safe.
A big police presence makes the downtown fairly safe.
Nashville has some bad areas downtown, but the northwest side is the worst area.
Police patrol the tourist areas all hours of the day, but it still pays to be vigilant in these areas.
Nashville and Memphis both have high assault rates.
The small towns of Savannah, Newport, Pigeon Forge, Athens, and Dyersburg also have high crime rates.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Tennessee
- Do research. Before going on your trip, check out the areas you want to visit. Check for crime rates and dangers that may be current in the area. Knowing a little about the area you are going to can make a difference.
- Lock your car. On vacation, it is easy to get complacent and not be as careful. Thieves look for unlocked cars and may even try doors to see if they are locked. They will usually not break into a car, so locking up will keep you safe.
- Check the weather. Winters can get snow and there are storms throughout the year. Before heading out, check the weather and pay attention to any warning that may be given. The state has a website where you may check road conditions.
- Stay on the path. Especially in the bigger cities, don’t go too far off the beaten path. Most tourist areas are kept safe by law enforcement. Wandering out of those areas in places like Memphis can put you in danger. This is true any time of day, but particularly true at night.
- Be confident. Look like you know where you are going and try to avoid looking like you are lost. It is fine to stop and ask for directions, but when you look lost or confused you will attract those that might want to do you harm or take advantage of you.
- Don’t look like a tourist. Keep electronics under wraps, and expose your camera as little as possible. Tourists also attract attention from those that might want to harm you. Try to look like an average normal person on the street. Blend in as much as possible.
- Watch for wildlife. Tennessee is a very natural state with a lot of woodlands and natural areas. This means deer and other wildlife may venture out onto the highway. They can cause accidents if they are hit. Even a small animal can make you lose control of your car. At night, slow down and watch the sides of the highway.
- Stay alert at the wheel. If you drive a long way, it can be easy to fall asleep without realizing what is happening. Don’t drive if you are too tired. Take frequent breaks so you can stay alert. Avoid distractions like electronic devices. Roads are good in the state and there are several interstates.
- Respect nature. If you are exploring a national or state park, remember you are in the animals’ homes. Don’t feed wildlife and don’t try to interact with them. Keep your distance. An animal that feels threatened will attack. In the eastern mountains, bears can be dangerous, and deer can as well in some cases.
- Relax but be aware. Crime or other bad things can happen anywhere. It is great to relax, but just try to remain aware of your surroundings. Keep your property locked and out of sight as much as possible. Be wary of people you don’t know.
So... How Safe Is Tennessee Really?
While Memphis is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation with a high crime rate, the rest of the state is generally below the national rate.
Most of the state is safe, with a few extremely dangerous areas.
Tennessee has the third highest crime rate in the nation, with 672 per 100,000.
The national average is about 400.
Even so, some areas of Memphis are very safe.
Memphis reported 12,654 violent crimes in 2018, Nashville reported 7641, Chattanooga had 1891, and Knoxville had 1508.
Memphis is a much larger city, but the crime rate is still significantly higher.
Residents of Tennessee feel safe in their homes, which is a good indication of general safety.
When it comes to violent crime, 47 percent feel concerned, and the national average is 41 percent.
Tennesseans are at the national average for property crime at 42 percent.
Over the past year, 29 percent of people surveyed experienced property crime, and 17 percent experienced violent crime.
This means either they or a family member was a victim.
Some towns have very little crime.
Church Hill, a small town in the eastern section, reported no violent crime and only 10 property crimes over the past two years.
They are small towns, but the top five reported no murders and five or fewer violent crimes.
In Tennessee, it seems where you are has a lot to do with how dangerous it is.
Staying out of bad areas, and normal precautions in other areas should keep you safe.
Ask at your hotel if any areas should be avoided.
Sometimes just a block or two can make a tremendous difference in the level of safety.
How Does Tennessee Compare?
You will need to have a Visa when you enter the United States. There are some international airports in Tennessee, so you can go through customs there. Once in the country, you will not need it.
The U.S. Dollar is the standard currency. Businesses in Tennessee will not accept any other currency in cash. Credit cards from anywhere are OK. You may make money exchange at the airport or any bank.
The weather in Tennessee is relatively mild and can be very different from one end to the other. The mountains can get chilly at night, even in summer.
The major cities in Tennessee have big airports, and a lot of medium-sized towns do as well. Airports are on the edge of town in most cases.
Travel insurance will give you peace of mind that if something does go wrong, you will be covered.
Tennessee Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Tennessee - Safety by City