KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Data taken from the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety shows excessive speeding and aggressive driving were leading causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents between 2016 and 2020. Kansas City accounts for at least 18% of total fatal crashes involving aggressive drivers during this time.
The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department reported its 38th traffic fatality for the year on Sunday, compared to 22 traffic fatalities at this time last year, nearly 65% more recorded between Jan. 1 and May 9 2022 than in 2021.
For the first time since 2006, Missouri traffic fatalities surpassed 1,000 last year, with over 8% of total traffic fatalities in the state occurring just in Kansas City.
Matthew Killion, assistant district engineer at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), said state engineers are working to improve Kansas City roadways, catering street construction for crash prevention by implementing rumble strips, additional dividers, and even J turns at at-grade crossings.
He said engineers first began making these preventative roadway improvements when traffic fatalities in Missouri reached 947 in 2016, an 8.9% increase from the 870 people that died in traffic in 2015.
“There’s an intersection with a high speed road, we will install a J-turn to prevent those right angle crashes, the T-bone crashes that can often be fatal,” Killion said. “So, we’ve done that at a lot of high crash location intersections, where we have those sort of crashes.”
Killion said engineers also pulled roadway rumble strips and stripes closer to the travel lane, so that when individuals start to veer out of their lane, they’re alerted sooner.
After making these changes, Killion said the state initially watched traffic fatalities fall from 932 in 2017 to 921 in 2018, nearly a 1.2% decline. In 2019, traffic fatalities declined to 881, roughly a 4% decrease from the year before.
“We implemented a lot of guard cables on our high speed divided routes that prevent those crossover crashes that can often be deadly,” he said. “Those kinds of things gave us progress up until 2016, but we’ve seen a steady increase in roadway fatalities, unfortunately, since then.”
In 2020, the state saw a 12% increase in traffic fatalities, from only 881 in 2019 to 987 in 2020.
In response to the jump in traffic fatalities, Killion said MoDOT is hammering down on preventative engineering and education to ensure drivers not only know how to stay safe on the road, but also to better understand how roads are built and designed.
But at the end of the day, he said safe driving practices come down to four things.
“The biggest thing is to buckle up, to not drive distracted, to watch your speed, and to not drive impaired, so those four things are critical in driving down fatalities in Missouri,” he said.
To learn more about how to keep yourself and others safe on the road, visit savemolives.com for more information.