Missourians have new reason to be concerned about road safety. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri road deaths are 14 percent higher than they were at the same time in 2011. The agency estimates this accounted for 58 more deaths in motor vehicle accidents so far this year.

And this comes after the fatality rate had trended downward for six years. MoDOT does not yet know why the rate has increased this year, but in a recent press release pointed out several disturbing statistics:

  • Four out of five accidents have something to do with distracted driving like texting behind the wheel.
  • Almost one-third of 2011 Missouri road deaths involved alcohol- or drug-impaired driving.
  • About three-fourths of passengers killed on Missouri roads in the past three years were not wearing seat belts.
  • One-quarter of motor vehicle crashes in the past three years in the state involved drivers under 21.

So state officials are looking at the dangerous image of a drunk, young, unbelted, texting driver. And MoDOT recently started a campaign to fight unsafe driving with its statewide electronic roadside message board system.

Updated weekly, the signs will sometimes display messages designed to provide a dose of reality to motorists. MoDOT will provide how many people have been killed on Missouri roadways so far this year and what proportion of them were not wearing seat belts.

It is hoped that by putting this important information front and center that motorists and passengers will take note and buckle up, increasing the odds of surviving car accidents.

Source: Missouri Department of Transportation, “MoDOT Signs to Report Roadway Fatality Numbers,” Aug. 1, 2012