Close Menu
Nashville Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > General > Interstates in Tennessee

Interstates in Tennessee

Tennessee interstates

When traveling from point A to point B, motorists typically search for the most direct route to get to their destination quickly. Depending on where you live and where you are driving, choosing the right route is an important aspect of your travel plan to avoid unnecessary mileage and wasted gas money. One of the most efficient ways to travel across any state is through the interstate highway system.

What are Interstate and Defense Highways?

The interstate system, also called the Eisenhower system, is a series of interconnected national public roads across the United States. President Eisenhower first enacted the system to allow Americans to quickly evacuate cities from the threat of an atomic bomb, so they were considered defense highways. This process began with the signing of the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1956. This law united the already developing highway system into an infrastructural network throughout the nation for faster travel via defense highways. Construction began in 1958 on additional interstates.

Tennessee Interstate Highway System

Travelers in the state of Tennessee have a vast network of interstate highways to make their trips more efficient, saving them time, mileage, and gas money. All interstate highways in the state are marked with “Albert Gore Sr. Memorial Highway.” This designation is thanks to former Tennessee Senator Albert Gore Sr. who helped champion the Federal Aid Highway Act in Congress.

These roadways criss-cross through the state, providing access to the various towns, cities, and regions. Faster speed limits and two lanes or more open up to allow drivers to avoid single-lane roads with many stops to slow down their travel.

Primary Interstates

Tennessee’s interstate highway system has several primary interstates that motorists can take advantage of to move across the state quickly.


The longest interstate highway in Tennessee is I-40. It runs from the first section in the southwest corner of the state near Memphis through Knoxville and into North Carolina. This interstate actually runs across the entire country from California to the east coast.

On its way through Tennessee, it passes through 24 counties, making it the main thoroughfare to get across the state. Though vehicles congests near major cities like Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, the general flow of traffic allows travelers quick movement from east to west.


The first interstate opened in the state of Tennessee was I-65, all the way back in 1958. This highway bisects the state right down the middle from north to south, moving through Nashville along the way. The full length of the highway connects Chicago, Illinois to the southern tip of Alabama. Tennessee contains the shortest interstate segment of I-65, running for only 122 miles from the northern border to the Alabama state line.


This north-to-south highway runs from the northern border near Clarksville to the southeast, cutting through Nashville and ending near Chattanooga. Its intersection with I-40 and I-65 is considered the busiest interchange in the state highway system, with a high potential for traffic jams and gridlock.


I-75 begins at the Georgia state line and ends on the Kentucky border with Tennessee. It also moves from north to south, passing through the city of Knoxville and heading down toward Chattanooga. This crucial route in the Tennessee interstate system sees many travelers passing through the state on their way down the east coast.


As one of the primary routes for east coast travel, I-81 begins in the northern parts of New York, with its last segment terminating in the city of Dandridge in Tennessee. It allows key transportation along the east coast for several states, and the Tennessee stretch opens up travel in the northeast corner of the state.

Other Roads that are Tennessee Interstate Highways

There are other interstates maintained by the Tennessee Department of Transportation that are significant for travelers, and they are known as auxiliary interstates. These public roads normally contain three digits and are used to supplement the primary interstates throughout the country. In Tennessee, these include I-240, I-155, I-140, and I-440. Citizens of the state use these shorter routes to get even closer to their intended destinations.

Staying Safe on the Tennessee Interstate System

Whether you are traveling on I-65 near the Tennessee-Alabama line or via I-40 through Nashville and Knoxville, staying safe on the roads is very important. Since so many travelers use these interstate and defense highways daily, many risks are inherent with high traffic volume.

Be Careful With On/Off-Ramps

The most common locations for accidents and traffic jams on the interstate system are on and off ramps. With multiple lanes merging and motorists entering the interstate highway, the capacity for collisions is very high. Be wary when you are approaching a ramp for motorists entering and leaving Tennessee’s interstate system.

Cautious Lane Switching

A common cause of accidents on the interstate is reckless lane-switching. Many drivers tend to be impatient and will make careless moves through traffic to try to make up time or get to an off-ramp from several lanes over. Using your turn signal to indicate a switch and double-checking the lane you will enter are the keys to doing so safely.

Hurt in a Collision on the Highway? Call a Car Accident Lawyer

Whether you are driving on off-ramps, bridges, or the main roadways of the interstate system, you are at risk of getting into a car crash that could result in serious injury. When this happens, you may need legal representation to protect your interests should you choose to file a claim for damages.

Mitch Grissim & Associates is the team you need for sound legal advice and expert knowledge during your car accident case. When you are injured and dealing with financial losses, let us help you prove the liability of the other driver and pursue compensation for damages accrued.

Get in Touch Today

Call our office at 615-255-9999 for a free consultation about your interstate accident case, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn