Missouri 2012 traffic deaths on the rise after a 6-year decline

Monday, June 25, 2012 | 6:47 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After indicating a decline in traffic crash fatalities for the past six years, Missouri State Highway Patrol data show a total of 375 deaths in the first six months of 2012, 62 more than in the same period last year.

Captain Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said that in 2005, there were 1,257 traffic deaths, whereas in 2011, there were only 784.

Hull said the decrease in fatalities might have been the result of an effort to step up police regulation of drunken or aggressive driving. The installation of more barriers and fences along highways and the increase in size of road signs could have also been contributors.

But now the number of traffic crash fatalities are back on the rise. Hull said a common theme of this year’s crash reports was that drivers failed to stay in their lane, thus driving off the road and into oncoming traffic or an adjacent lane. Hull said this might be because of inattentive or distracted drivers, panic or over-correction.

Hull attributed another trend to not wearing a seatbelt. Over two thirds of crash fatalities this year were due to partial or total ejection from the vehicle.

In his experience, Hull said people are under the impression that it's a personal preference not to wear a seatbelt. He begs to differ.

"Put that seatbelt on," he said.

Supervising editor is Hannah Cushman.

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