“Buckle Up, Phone Down” campaign encourages drivers to wear seat belts and limit distractions in the car

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:44 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - In 2020, nearly 60% of deaths from distracted driving in Missouri claimed the life of someone besides the distracted driver.

The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are teaming up for the “Buckle Up, Phone Down” campaign, an effort to encourage drivers to buckle up and put the phone down to keep roadways safe.

“It’s important because we continue to have just a very high percentage of people that are killed in crashes that are not wearing a seatbelt,” said State Highway Safety Engineer Nicole Hood. “So far, in 2021, almost two-thirds of the vehicle occupants that were killed in Missouri crashes were unbuckled. It’s even a higher percentage for pickup truck occupants. If you look at the data so far in 2021, 86% of the people that are killed in pickup trucks are unbuckled.”

Distracted driving continues to be a problem here in Missouri. While you may be tempted to check that message or shuffle a music playlist while driving, that choice could have deadly consequences.

According to MODOT, the number of crashes involving distracted driving is often underreported.

“Cell phone usage does continue to be one of the most disconcerting behaviors that we see out on the roadways,” said Hood. “I think everyone struggles with it. You hear the beep or the ding, and you think you have to grab that phone. If you look at some of the data for 2020, nearly 60% of the distracted driving fatalities in Missouri, it did claim the life of another person, and it was not the distracted driver.”

While distracted driving continues to be a problem in Missouri, it’s unclear just how many accidents are caused because the driver wasn’t paying attention.

“We have seen an increase in distracted driving crashes, but the reality is they’re actually underreported,” said Hood. “If the driver doesn’t admit to using their cell phone when they were in a crash, then the likelihood is that you know that those incidents could go unreported.”

So before you head out, make sure to wear your seatbelt and keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.

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