For the third year in a row, more than 900 people were killed in Missouri traffic crashes. Statewide, the preliminary numbers indicate 918 lives were lost in 2018, down slightly from 932 fatalities in 2017. Speed, distraction, impairment, and fatigue continue to be the top causes of fatal crashes. In particular, the number of cell phone related crashes have become increasingly prevalent in the state.
In 2018, 62 people died in crashes on North Missouri roadways, almost 15 percent more than the 54 fatalities in 2017. That is 116 people in two years who got in their vehicle and never came home. Something must change.
“Cellphone related crashes are up 35 percent since 2014,” said MoDOT Assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, Jon Nelson. “It’s one of the fastest growing causes of fatal crashes in Missouri, and like most other contributing factors, it’s completely preventable.”
Drivers carry a huge responsibility when driving a vehicle. Nearly all fatal crashes are preventable if drivers would heed warnings of speed limits, traffic signs, and laws. The top two causes of fatal crashes in North Missouri in 2018 were driving too fast for conditions and inattentive or distracted driving.
Likewise, everyone can help improve safety by taking two simple actions: always buckle up and put down the phone when driving. While a recent survey indicates more Missourians are buckling up than ever before, the impacts of not wearing a seat belt and using the phone are hard to ignore. Pickup truck drivers are especially overrepresented as they have the lowest seat belt usage rate in the state. In North Missouri, 80 percent of the fatal crashes occurred on rural roadways.
Teens and young adults, however, are getting the message. Of the fatal crashes in North Missouri, the majority of those killed who were not wearing a seat belt were over 30.
“Eighty-seven percent of Missourians are buckling up. However, the few who aren’t account for more than 60 percent of our traffic fatalities,” said Nelson. “When it comes to cell phones, nobody wants to be on the road with a driver constantly using their phone, but so many people find it acceptable to do themselves. We can do better.”