According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, car accidents have claimed the lives of 234 people so far this year. In comparison to this same time last year, that’s an 11 percent increase in fatalities.
The rise in traffic deaths is largely due to human error, such as distracted driving and excessive speed, which goes well beyond talking and texting on the cellphone, according to MSHP Corporal Justin Wheatley. He told FOX 2 in St. Louis that applying makeup, handling children, drinking, fidgeting with the radio, and even reading books are all activities he’s witnessed motorists do while driving.
To make matters worse, the victims were not wearing a seatbelt in 63 percent of those fatalities.
Additionally, he warned that the upcoming summer months, which are also travel and construction season, present more road hazards and that motorists should “pay attention because driving is a responsibility.” At the beginning of this month, a MoDOT worker was struck and killed in Franklin County while in the line of duty. MoDOT crew members were performing maintenance work on a bridge when the victim was struck while working traffic control.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and while the cause of the accident is under investigation, authorities confirmed that distracted driving is the number one reason for accidents in Missouri. In fact, new research from AT&T found that states with anti-texting laws have lower rates of texting while driving. Furthermore, the study found that states without a ban, including Missouri, have a roughly 17 percent higher rate of texting while driving compared to the 46 states with a statewide ban.
Missouri, Texas, Arizona, and Montana are the only four states without a statewide texting and driving ban.