Missouri Car Accidents in 2015
From 2001 to 2014 the number of fatal Missouri car accidents on highways had been declining every year thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, public education, advocacy groups, emergency medical services and improvements in technology and road engineering. All good news until the numbers for 2015 rolled in. As of December 14th, there have been 814 fatalities on Missouri’s highways this year. This number represents an 11% increase from 2014 and the first time in 8 years we have not seen this grim statistic go down. Many authorities are putting the blame squarely on an increase in texting and driving. Others see it simply as a numbers game and point to lower gas prices as an indirect cause: cheaper gas = more people are on the road and more miles traveled = more highway fatalities.
The obvious question is what can we do to turn these numbers around? The most staggering number in all of this is the fact that 63% of those killed on our highways are not wearing a seatbelt. So many lives could be saved if drivers would take the simple step of buckling up every time they get in the car. (Experts believe that 50% of fatalities could be avoided if seatbelts were worn.) According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, being in a 30-mph car crash without a seatbelt is equivalent to falling from a 3-story building. Occupants who are not wearing seatbelts have been killed in crashes as slow as 12 mph. The airbags are approximately 40% less effective when an occupant is not wearing a seatbelt. Despite the many warnings, and the fact that putting on a seatbelt takes literally 3 seconds, Missouri drivers and passengers continue to go unbelted.
Our State Highway Patrol troops are doing what they can to prevent these fatal crashes – by imposing some serious consequences for at-fault drivers. For example, an intoxicated driver could face manslaughter or assault charges for causing a crash. One can also face criminal charges if you injure or kill someone while driving distracted.
MoDot offers the following tips to guide drivers in preventing a fatal crash. They seem obvious and easy to follow, but clearly more and more people are ignoring these tips:
- Never drive distracted. Focus on driving (not texting or eating or multi-tasking).
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Always wear a seat belt and make sure your passengers are buckled up.
- Never drive impaired by alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs.
- Maintain a safe following distance behind other vehicles.
- Slow down and obey the speed limit.
- Obey Missouri traffic laws.