KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the first time in nearly 16 years, Missouri’s traffic fatalities surpassed 1,000, according to a press release issued this month by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Preliminary data reveals 1,007 people were killed in traffic crashes last year, a 2% increase from 2020. This is the second year in a row of increasing fatality totals after nearly a decade of steady decline, according to the release. 

“These fatalities are unacceptable, alarming and preventable,” Patrick McKenna, director at MoDOT, said in the release. “There are simple things we can all do to make a real impact on our roadways.”

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s (MSHP) online crash reports, over 700 traffic crashes occurred in the Kansas City region alone last year.

Johnson County saw the most crashes of any other Kansas City county at 186. Jackson County follows in second with 145 reported crashes, nearly a 25% difference. Cass County came in third with 119, while Clay County ranked fourth with 116 traffic crashes.

Lafayette County ranked last for having the fewest traffic crashes of any Kansas City region county in 2021 with only 84. 

Data collected by highway patrol reveals nearly two-thirds of occupants killed in Missouri crashes were not wearing a seat belt, something McKenna said is totally preventable.

“Wearing your seat belt is your best line of defense in a crash and avoiding distractions can prevent those crashes in the first,” McKenna said in the release.

Drivers using a cellphone were involved in over 2,000 crashes in Missouri in 2021, preliminary data reveals, and 41% of fatal crashes involved speeding or driving too fast.

“Every motorist who uses Missouri roadways plays an important role in reducing traffic fatalities,” Colonel Eric Olson, superintendent of the MSHP, said in the release. “The public can help us prevent fatalities by paying attention to the full-time job of driving, obeying all traffic laws, and wearing a seat belt.”

Show-Me-Zero, Missouri’s highway safety plan, focuses on four areas in which Missourians can assist in minimizing traffic deaths.

“Buckle up,” McKenna said in the release. “Phone down.”

The other recommendations include slowing down and driving sober.

“The Missouri State Patrol is dedicated to promoting safety upon our highways and working to reduce the number and severity of traffic crashes,” Olson said in the release.

Those interested in learning more about how Missourians can help make the roads safer should visit www.savemolives.com for information.