Missouri fails national safety report, ranks dead last overall
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is one of eleven states to receive an "F" overall in a new safety report. Out of the 50 states and District of Columbia, Missouri is ranked dead last at 51st, according to the National Safety Council.
The State of Safety report grades state efforts by looking at laws, policies and regulations around issues that lead to the most preventable deaths and injuries.
Missouri ranked 47th overall in workplace safety, 48th in home and community safety and 49th in road safety.
MoDOT Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield said the results were a bit surprising.
"I think you’re always surprised whenever you get a grade of an 'F,' so that is certainly something that we don’t like to see," Whitfield said.
After reviewing the report, Whitfield said Missouri hasn't enacted some laws, which may be holding it back.
"As you review the report by the National Safety Council, many of the ranking areas that they listed in there for the state status indicators were laws that we are currently lacking that we know, if they were passed, would enhance the safety of Missouri's motorists," Whitfield said.
Whitfield said implementing seat belt laws and texting bans would be a good first step.
"We know of the fatalities that occur on Missouri's roadways, 68 percent are unbuckled at the time that fatality occurs," Whitfield said. "I think that if we could pass some of the laws for primary safety belts, all driver texting bans, and strengthening our impaired driving laws would be steps in the right direction to make our roadways safe to travel.”
Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, said lawmakers will look into the report.
"If we have any flaws in our laws, we will certainly try to fix that through legislation and always just make sure safety awareness is a big issue," Basye said.
He said creating new laws is not always the answer.
"You can legislate things but you can’t legislate behavior," Basye said. "People are going to break the law unfortunately, but, through encouragement and education, I think that’s a big part of what we are trying to do.”
Whitfield had a similar message.
"Regardless of laws that we have or laws that we don’t have, driving is a full time responsibility and we need to accept that," Whitfield said. "The driver of the car is that first level of prevention in a motor vehicle crash."
This report is the first of its kind, and the president and CEO of the National Safety Council, Deborah Hersman, said she hopes it leads to change.
"This report provides states with a blueprint for saving lives, and we hope lawmakers, civic leaders, public health professionals and safety advocates use it to make their communities measurably safer," Hersman said.