COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As 2023 is coming to a close, the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are looking to decrease the number of traffic deaths for 2024 after they reported 978 traffic deaths this year alone.
While that number is still high, it is not as high as years past. It has decreased by about 6%. According to SaveMoLives database, in 2022 there were over 1,050 traffic deaths.
However, that number is still too high for officials' liking.
"It's almost an average of three people killed every day in our state. We've had more than a thousand traffic fatalities in Missouri each of the last two years," said Jon Nelson, Assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer from MoDOT.
Nelson said MoDOT saw the first increase in traffic deaths in 2020 and an even bigger increase in 2021, before peaking in 2022, hitting numbers they haven't seen since 2006.
Nelson says distracted driving has been a big issue on roadways. He believes the new Hands-Free law regarding distracted driving that went into effect in August can help decrease the number of deaths in the future.
"Some of the preliminary data from some of the mobile analytics shows that there have been some reductions in distracted driving in our state. I think all of us in the highway safety profession agree that distracted driving is by far the greatest change on our roadways over the past decade or two," said Nelson.
MoDOT says there are four core things drivers can do to help decrease traffic deaths and collisions.
Always wear a seatbelt or helmet if you are on a motorcycle. Don't be a distracted driver, put the phone down and focus on the road. Follow the speed limit and traffic laws and do not drive impaired.
For MSHP Troop F alone, in 2023 there have been 75 traffic deaths.