After a promising start to 2020 with a five-year low in January traffic fatalities, February did not follow suit and ended with 63 people killed (preliminary results) in Missouri traffic crashes. As the state eyes a long-term vision for zero traffic fatalities, there have been 10 days thus far in 2020 with no fatal traffic crashes. Meanwhile, there were 12 days in February alone where three or more people were killed in a crash, including six fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday. Traffic crashes constitute a public health crisis – one that claimed the lives of 877 people in Missouri and more than 36,000 nationwide last year.
“One life lost is one too many,” said Nicole Hood, MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer. “The majority of these deaths are preventable by simply slowing down, buckling up and putting your phone down.”
Missouri’s Buckle Up Phone Down campaign has seen tremendous success with more than 500 businesses and 13,000 individuals pledging to adopt those two life-saving steps. Seat belt usage has increased by 6.3% in the last three years in Missouri and fatalities dropped 6% during that same period. Following Missouri’s lead, three other states are also active in the BUPD movement with several more expressing interest in the initiative as well. That said, the February results are a reminder there remains plenty of work to do in both spreading and adopting the message.
Preliminary statistics show that 72% of drivers and passengers killed in 2020 crashes thus far were unbuckled. Compared to 2019, this is a 9% increase in the number of unbuckled occupants killed. While excessive speed, aggression, distraction, and impairment remain the leading cause of fatal traffic crashes in Missouri, seat belts, car seats, and helmets remain a person’s number one defense should a crash occur.
“It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free,” said Hood referencing the proper use of a safety device. “There have been countless tragedies on our roadways that could have been prevented with the simple use of a seat belt. Likewise, many of these crashes would not occur in the first place if we all embrace our responsibility to drive in a safe manner.”
Simple conscious and consistent choices can ensure that March and the remainder of 2020 result in a better outcome.
“As you take your daily commute or simply drop the top on the convertible for a sunny spring drive, please remember the simple steps we can all take to ensure a safer transportation system: drive sober, slow down, buckle up and put your phone down. Together, we can all do our part to move Missouri closer to zero traffic fatalities,” Hood said.
For additional information regarding roadway safety or Buckle Up Phone Down, visit www.saveMOlives.com or www.modot.org/bupd.