Traffic Fatalities Soar in 2012 for Missouri

January 8, 2013

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Missouri suffered 818 deaths, a 4 percent increase from a six-year downward trend, and Kansas City traffic fatalities reaches to its highest level in nine years.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and police question whether distracted driving could be the answer to the increase in traffic fatalities. Sergeant Tim Hall from the Missouri State Patrolmen reports that a new category on this year's fatalities is related to cell phone usage as a contributing factor in crashes.

Another trend that troopers have noticed since last in crashes is caused by drivers whose right-side tires drifted off the pavement. Those drivers then either continued off the road and crashed or over corrected and ended up in another lane of traffic, or even in oncoming traffic. Inattention or distraction is often the reason a driver's tires drop off the pavement or speeding along a curve is another reason.

The usual reasons of more impaired drivers or fewer motorists buckling up don't seem apply to last year's statistics. The same number of victims in fatal crashes avoided seat belts last year, about 65 percent, and the number of fatal wrecks caused by impaired drivers actually dropped to 40 percent last year.

Police noticed more single-car wrecks last year than usual. And more victims were in their 20s compared with previous years. As of November 2012, 31 percent of the 65 fatalities were between the ages of 20 and 29 years old. Most victims were white males who were behind the wheel.

Although the city recorded the same number of pedestrian deaths, 14, as the prior year, the number hit on highways jumped to nine last year from three in 2011.

Five of the highway pedestrians were intoxicated, and two suffered from mental illness, police said. Many were trying to cross the highway, which is extremely dangerous.

Statistics show inattention was the "leading cause" of crashes at eight of the top 10 intersections.

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