MoDOT Signs Report Roadway Fatality Numbers

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JEFFERSON CITY - MoDOT began using its electronic roadway message signs Wednesday to report the number of people who have died on Missouri roads this year and the percentage of those people who were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. MoDOT said it will update the messages weekly and will rotate the message through 66 rural electronic message boards on I-70, I-44, I-55, I-35, I-29 and US-60. 

This comes after MoDOT reported Missouri roadway fatalities are up 14 percent or 58 deaths from this time last year. This is a sharp increase from the previous six years that saw declines in fatalities. MoDOT said during the last three years, seven out of 10 people killed in Missouri traffic accidents were not wearing their seat belts. 

"And then when you look at the youth population, you're looking at almost eight out of 10 that die in fatalities that are unbuckled," said MoDOT State Highway Safety Director Leanna Depue.  " So I think there are just some simple things the general population could do that could definitely begin to move our numbers in the right direction."

Depue said getting people to wear seat belts would be an easy way to cut down on fatalities. She also said the reason for the increase in deaths this year was due to the mild winter. People who were usually not on the road during the winter months, including motorcyclists and the elderly, were on the road more this year because of the mild temperatures and lack of snow. 

Depue said she hopes the messages on the electronic roadsigns will show people the reality of what can happen when motorists are distracted while driving and don't wear seat belts. 

"We want you to think about driving," said Depue. "We want you to think about how to drive safely and you can do some very simple things: buckling up, paying attention, obeying the speed limit and then that one that seems to be a big problem right now which is focusing on the road rather than being distracted." 

You can find which message boards have the fatality message by going to MoDOT's Traveler Information Map and clicking "Message Boards."