SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there was a decrease in the nation’s roadway fatalities and they’ve also decreased in Missouri.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, says that the nation saw a 2.4 percent decrease in fatalities in 2018.
“In 2017 here in Missouri, we had 932 fatalities on Missouri roadways,” Cindy Dunnaway said, MoDOT’s District Traffic Engineer. “Fast forward another year, so in 2018 we’re showing a bit of a decline. 921 Lives were lost on Missouri roadways.”
That’s about a 1% decrease, but Dunnaway says even though it looks like a small percentage, it still means lives were saved.
“Our ultimate goal, and it might be a lofty one, is to get to zero fatalities because really, one fatality is one too many,” Dunnaway said. “It’s always some one’s family member, a friend, a neighbor, a coworker, someone that they know and care about. And so, that’s why really we need to get to that point where everybody is you know safe out on the roadways.”
She says the biggest causes for roadway fatalities across the state are driving distracted and not wearing a seat belt.
“One of the leading causes is distracted driving. That could take distracted driving of all forms. It could be looking at a text on your cell phone or talking, having a phone conversation with someone,” Dunnaway said. “Some people seem to think that even though their eyes are on the road, that they’re paying attention, but it’s really hard for the brain to multitask. By putting that device down, put that smartphone away either in the glove box, or your purse or your pocket really helps to make sure that you’re able to react to things that are happening on the roadway.”
Dunnaway says while MoDOT can help minimize the risk, she still hopes people will heed the warning to buckle up and put the phone down.
“One of the big campaigns that we have here at MoDOT, its called ‘Buckle Up, Phone Down,’” Dunnaway said. “All of these little things that you can do…these are, you know, two simple things that everybody can do. It doesn’t cost any money. It might save your life. Every time you drive in a vehicle, you’re putting yourself at risk.”
You can pledge to wear your seat belt and to not drive distracted on MoDOT’s website, here.