JEFFERSON CITY — Preliminary reporting for 2020 indicates Missouri traffic fatalities increased by 12% compared to the previous year. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 989 lives were lost in Missouri traffic crashes in 2020, up from 881 in 2019, according to a press release.
“Nearly every fatal crash that occurs is preventable,” said Capt. John Hotz, Missouri State Highway Patrol public information and education director. “Over 90% of these crashes were the result of someone simply making a poor decision, primarily: driving too fast, driving distracted or driving impaired. Many of those killed were not wearing a seat belt.”
Despite traffic volumes in the state being significantly down for much of the year, Missouri experienced its largest number of traffic fatalities since 2007. In particular, there were notable increases in unbuckled and speed related fatalities, with both experiencing approximately a 25% increase from the previous year. In 2020, 67% of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes were unbuckled and preliminary numbers indicate 389 people were killed in crashes involving excessive speed or driving too fast for conditions. In addition, there were 126 pedestrians killed in 2020 – the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in Missouri ever recorded.
“The pandemic reminded us even if a large portion of vehicles are removed from the roadways, poor driving behaviors still have significant and often deadly consequences.” said MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “We continue to work diligently in achieving the ultimate goal – zero traffic fatalities in Missouri. This year, we’re excited to introduce Missouri’s new strategic plan, a tool we hope will help us eventually reach that goal.”
Missouri’s new strategic highway safety plan, Show-Me Zero, Driving Missouri Toward Safer Roads, identifies four key focus areas to help turn the tide: occupant protection (seat belts, car seats and helmets), distracted driving, speed and aggressive driving, and impaired driving. More than that, the plan identifies ways all Missourians can help reduce the number of fatalities on Missouri roadways. Show-Me Zero includes strategies for families and individuals as well as groups such as schools, businesses, local public agencies, law enforcement, health organizations, and statewide officials.
“So, how can you help? Ultimately, our success will be dependent upon everyone’s willingness to take personal responsibility for safely using the transportation system and demanding others do the same,” Hood said.
Show-Me Zero highlights four simple actions we can all take to improve safety on Missouri’s roads: Buckle up. Put the phone down. Slow down. Drive sober. Take a look at the new plan and do your part to create a safer Missouri. The plan can be viewed in its entirety at www.savemolives.com.