COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri challenges everyone to their annual "Buckle up, Phone down" day which started in light of an "Ice Bucket" challenge used to promote awareness of the disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Missouri's current safety belt usage rate is 86 percent however the 14 percent who did not buckle up resulted in 426 fatalities.
MoDOT representative Jonathon Nelson said many of the accidents and deaths which occurred over the past couple of years could have been prevented if people had their seatbelts on.
"There's no reason any of us young, old whatever our place in life. We can all participate in "Buckle up, Phone down" and at the end of the day its going to make our state a safer place to be," Nelson said.
MODOT data shows over the past five years cellphone-related crashes in Missouri have increased by 30 percent.
"Because at the end of the day, we're losing hundreds of lives on our roadways, primarily because of a few reasons; that's seatbelts and cell phones that are two of the leading causes," Nelson said.
Missouri's law only bans texting and driving and all other uses of handheld mobile devices for drivers 21 or younger. This law does not apply to drivers above the age of 21.
MoDOT said people in the community have done a great job with promoting "Buckle up, Phone down" day which has helped keep drivers safe on the road but there is still much work to be done.
Nelson said the lack of seatbelt use and accident fatalities is still more prominent than impaired driving.
"It's just one of those things it takes our attention off the roadways, distracts us and in a lot of ways it's like impaired driving," said Nelson.
MoDOT is encouraging all drivers regardless of their age to wear a seatbelt and silence their phones when driving on the road not just today but always.