Traffic deaths on the rise in Missouri

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By DICK ALDRICH
Missouri News Horizon

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. After six straight years of decline, traffic accident deaths are on the rise in Missouri.

Figures released by the Missouri Highway Patrol show that as of earlier this week, there were 34 more fatalities on Missouri roadways so far this year compared to 2011. It’s a disappointing trend for the patrol who last year touted the fact that traffic fatalities in 2011 were the lowest since 1949. Patrol spokesman, Capt. Tim Hull, said the patrol wants to get the word out to Missouri drivers that fatalities are increasing.

“We had done so well over the past six years, even when the other states had started to go back up with their numbers, our numbers continued to go down,” said Hull. “We wanted to get the information out there that this is occurring.”

Patrol spokesman, Capt. Hull, said most of the fatal accidents appear to be occurring when a car’s tires drop off the road and drivers over-correct, either rolling the car over, striking another vehicle, or hitting an object off the side of the road.

And Hull said it comes down to another alarming trend.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed, in two thirds of the cases that we’ve investigated thus far this year...people are simply not wearing their seat belts,” he said.

The Highway Patrol will continue to stress seat belt usage, but Hull said the patrol now has a video available on its website that instructs drivers on how to recover control of their car should the vehicle’s right side tires drop off the roadway.

Hull also said the patrol is concerned that traffic fatality numbers are up, despite the fact that there have not been any holiday periods, which increase traffic flow.

“We have to remind people and continue to pound it in to them that driving is a full time job, and it requires your full time attention, not momentarily lapsing to change the radio station, or text, or talk on the cell phone, or talk to someone else in the car,” said Hull.