Missouri Fatalities Slightly Decrease in 2018; More Progress Needed

This late-model Chevrolet was demolished in a crash on West Highway 14 in 2017 but the driver was apparently not seriously injured and left the scene before emergency responders arrived.

JEFFERSON CITY – For the third year in a row, more than 900 people were killed in Missouri traffic crashes. Preliminary numbers indicate 918 lives were lost in 2018, down slightly from 932 fatalities in 2017. Speed, distraction, impairment and fatigue continue to be top causes of fatal crashes. In particular, the number of cell phone related crashes has become increasingly prevalent in the state. 

“Cellphone related crashes are up 35 percent since 2014,” said Jon Nelson, MoDOT assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer. “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. 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.

“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.”

In 2019, commit to two simple actions. Take the Buckle Up Phone Down Challenge at http://www2.modot.org/BuckleUpPhoneDown/ and do your part to create a safer Missouri.