After virus comments, Parson addresses traffic deaths
COLUMBIA —According to Governor Parson's Thursday news briefing, Missouri has experienced a 12 percent rise in traffic fatalities compared to this time last year, despite traffic volumes dropping in 2020.
Missouri has overall been trending downward when it comes to traffic deaths for more than 15 years, according to the the Missouri State Highway Patrol's statistical analysis center. In 2002, 1,208 people died in crashes in the state. In 2019, the number was 876.
The uptick in this year's numbers was a topic of conversation during Thursday's briefing.
"We are alarmed by the increase in Missouri traffic fatalities, particularly since they occurred with reduced traffic due to the statewide stay at home order," said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna.
According to Parson's release, 2020 has seen 402 traffic fatalities, an increase of 43 compared to this time last year.
"We can not encourage drivers enough to pay attention and to obey the speed limit," Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Collin Stosberg said.
Thursday's briefing from MoDOT came after Parson made comments to a KOMU 8 reporter on Tuesday about personal responsibility for COVID-19 related deaths after his decision to reopen the state.
"Do I feel guilty because we have car accidents and people die every day?," he responded. "No, I don't feel guilty about that."
Missouri Democrats called on Parson to apologize for the comments.
"The governor’s refusal to take any responsibility for the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his decision to compare COVID-19 deaths to the flu and car crashes is deeply offensive and represents a stunning lack of compassion," Missouri Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohue said in a statement.
Gov. Parson today compared COVID-19 to the flu and car crashes and refused to take any responsibility for the state’s mishandling of the pandemic. His comments were offensive and showed a stunning lack of compassion. He should immediately apologize. #mogov pic.twitter.com/rTyvJ3DYtt— Missouri Democrats (@MoDemParty) June 23, 2020
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol statistics, crashes related to speeding caused 310 deaths in 2018, 298 in 2017, and 299 in 2016.