Traffic fatalities jump by 12% in Missouri

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 4:36 PM CDT
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Stay-at-home orders may have kept people off the road, but what did increase was fatal traffic crashes. Missouri saw a 12% increase in deaths from crashes compared to last year. 402 people have died on roadways.

71% of those people were not wearing seatbelts.

Trooper Sam Carpenter, with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said, “It's a simple thing to do, it takes three seconds to put your seatbelt on."

Eight people have died in southwest Missouri just this month, and most had the same issue.

"Six of which were unrestrained,” Carpenter said.

Right now in Missouri, police cannot pull you over for not wearing a seat belt. It is considered a secondary violation.

Gov. Mike Parson is open to making them primary, which means you can be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt. He says it all comes back to personal responsibility.

"Even if you had a law in place, the question then is do you use the seatbelt?” Gov. Parson said.

Some drivers in Springfield today agree it's safer to wear one, but many don't want a new law.

One driver, Blaine Myers, said, “it's still my choice. I don't think the government needs to step in and tell me I have to do this or can't do that."

Others can tell you personally, seat belt laws save lives.

"I've been in a wreck before, and seatbelts saved our I think everyone should be required to wear a seatbelt,” Tammy Patrick, another driver, said.

It is not just a missing belt leading to more deaths.

Patrick McKenna, the Director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said, "We do believe that distraction is one of the main causes."

In particular, using phones while driving.

This is alarming to Trooper Carpenter, as he knows we're in the middle of the 100 Deadliest Days, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During this time he sees more car accidents.

"It's simple physics, the faster you go the more severe the crash, the more severe your injury,” Carpenter said.

The speed limit signs tell you the maximum safe speed during perfect conditions. If there is Ice or any sort of hazardous weather conditions, you'll need to slow down.

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