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Highway patrol troop: Traffic deaths down 25% this year

Editor's note: Additional data in this article has been updated.


Traffic deaths on Missouri roads are down so far this year, officials say.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop F, which covers Mid-Missouri, reported this week that traffic deaths statewide were down 25% this year compared to last year at this time.

The patrol and the Missouri Department of Transportation have joined together to create the "Show-Me Zero" campaign, which aims to continue to decrease deaths that occur on Missouri highways.

"A comprehensive approach of education, public policy, enforcement, engineering and emergency services is our best hope to turn the tide," the website says. "In this way, we significantly increase our chances of protecting all users of the system. Ultimately, our success will be dependent upon everyone's willingness to take personal responsibility for safely using the transportation system and demanding others to do the same."

MSHP spokesman Cpl. Kyle Green said troopers take visit schools across the state to educate students on the importance of safe driving.

Green also said two-out-of-three people who die in vehicle crashes in Missouri are reported to not have been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. He also said he doesn't know for sure why the rate is lower so far this year, but thinks the weather could have been a contributing factor.

"You know, I would like to think that the messaging is getting out there and people are paying attention," he said. "But also, we have the reality too that this has been a fairly mild winter compared to the years in the past."

According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, there were 1,057 crash deaths in Missouri in 2022. Of those, 59% were not wearing a seatbelt. The number of deaths this year is significantly lower, with only 145 so far. However, 61% of people killed so far this year were not wearing a seatbelt.

A transportation policy in Columbia named "Vision Zero" challenges the idea that crashes are unavoidable, and aims to decrease the number of deaths and injuries from crashes to zero. Coordinator Krista Shouse-Jones said these crashes should not be referred to as accidents, as most could easily be avoided.

"Calling it an accident implies that it's just a fluke, you know it's just something that happens. A crash is something that really could be prevented," Jones said.

Nine people died in Columbia crashes in 2022, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. In 2023, there have only been two so far.

Green and Jones noted the decrease in crash-related deaths is a work in progress.

"Obviously 25% (down)...if we can raise that number even higher, that would be great, but we want to at least hold steady through the remainder of the year," Green said.

Article Topic Follows: Transportation

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Nia Hinson


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