INDEPENDENCE, Mo -- The deadliest stretch of highway in Kansas and Missouri is right here in the metro, according to a new report.
In Kansas and Missouri, nearly 2,600 people died in crashes in 2015 and 2016.
In a report released at the end of 2018, the Wendt Law Firm determined the top 40 deadliest crash sites by looking at where fatal crashes occur at a high rate. The crash sites were ranked by density, measured by deadly crashes per mile, according to the report.
The No. 1 deadliest stretch is a 16th of a mile of 24 Highway at North Blue Mills Road in Independence. There were three deadly crashes during those two years on that short section of the highway.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy, and we take it very seriously,” Independence Police Officer John Syme said. “It is all about how it is presented. When you call this a dangerous road, I think that is inaccurate. The road didn’t cause the fatalities. People caused it.”
Syme believes each one of those deadly crashes could have been avoided.
"Distracted driving is a large cause of accidents, and when people aren't wearing their seat belts, when speed is involved, they can become fatal," Syme said.
One of those deadly crashes was a one-car crash in February 2016 where an impaired driver died.
“Drunk driving is completely avoidable,” Syme said. “People have phones. People can get an Uber. People can call a friend. They don’t need to get behind the wheel. It seems like common sense. But I feel like when people are drinking, that goes away. Common sense goes away."
Syme couldn't go into details about a 2015 fatal crash involving two cars because the case has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office for possible criminal charges. But it's most likely the result of a drunk driver.
And in May 2016, a motorcycle rider ran a red light turning from Highway 24 onto North Blue Mills Road and was hit by a car, killing the two people on the bike.
"They are saying a specific stretch, fatalities have occurred there, and I don’t think we are disputing that. Obviously we took the reports. We worked those terrible crashes,” Syme said. “I don’t want people to say, 'We are coming up on this dangerous place. We better be careful.' Have that thought everywhere you are, everywhere you are driving because these fatality accidents can occur anywhere."
Of the 40 deadliest locations, just six are in Kansas. To see the full report, click/tap here.