The Missouri Department of Transportation is reporting a slight increase in traffic fatalities for the year 2012 – that’s expected to be about a 3 percent increase from last year.
The increase in Missouri’s comes after six years of decreases. Numbers reported fell from more than a thousand in the year 2006, to 786 last year. This year, MoDOT reports 806 fatalities so far on Missouri highways.
Bill Whitfield is with MoDOT’s highway safety program. He says even a slight increase like this year’s 3 percent is a concern:
"We are always concerned when an individual loses their lives due to a traffic crash. So a 3 percent increase is a concern to us. We don’t want anyone to die on Missouri’s road ways. We would like to see zero deaths occur over the course of a year."
Whiftfield says that in 64 percent of the fatal crashes so far this year, the driver or passenger was not wearing a seat belt. He says not wearing seat belts and driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol are two of the most frequent factors in roadway fatalities.
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety — a group made up of engineering, education and emergency services – has led the effort to reduce fatalities in Missouri. The lower numbers in previous years are attributed to a variety of factors, including engineering on roadways, educational efforts, enforcement, emergency medical response times, and even safer cars.