The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) director is warning about the increasing number of traffic fatalities in Missouri, linking it to cell phone use while driving.
The agency says traffic fatalities have increased by 15 percent in the past five years. MoDOT director Patrick McKenna tells 939 the Eagle that’s unacceptable.
“When you consider how much safer the vehicles are becoming, to have that happen in light of the safety features that are in the vehicles, that’s really astounding. And I believe it points directly to cell phone use while driving,” Director McKenna says.
Texting while driving has been a topic at this week’s Missouri highway safety and traffic conference in Columbia, which wraps up today at around noon. The event is being hosted by MoDOT and by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. A record 520 transportation professionals, law enforcement officers and safety advocates are at the Holiday Inn Executive Center for the conference. The 520 participants are from every part of Missouri.
MoDOT also says that 15 people were killed in Missouri work zones in 2022. Director McKenna is frustrated, telling 939 the Eagle that 34 percent of all serious injuries in crashes are caused by distracted driving.
“When you pair distraction with other things like speed or impairment, it really becomes a fatal mix,” says McKenna.
MoDOT also says wrong-way deaths in Missouri have jumped by 59 percent since 2018. The agency also says the number of fatalities involving motorcycles has increased since the helmet law was repealed by state lawmakers.