MoDOT updates crash deaths for people not wearing seat belts

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COLUMBIA - MoDot has updated its report on the number of traffic fatalities in Missouri and the number of people killed while not wearing seat belts.

MoDOT now says 168 people have died in the state in car accidents so far this year with 66 percent due to drivers not wearing their seatbelt. That number is up from 161.

An overall rise in fatalities on Missouri roadways began in 2012. 

The latest survey showed a decrease in seatbelt use from 2013 to 2014. 

One Columbia resident said he wouldn't be alive if he had not been wearing a seat belt during an accident.

"About three years ago I was in a car accident off Route B, like 7:30 in the morning. I fell asleep at the wheel going about 75 miles an hour, which I drove off the road and hit a MoDOT sign that suggested wearing seat-belts, Cole Moore said. The seatbelt was the only thing that saved my life. Without it the paramedics said I would have been thrown out of my windshield and would not have made it."

MoDOT said it has pushed for tougher seat belt ordinances but has not gotten far.

"We are a secondary seat belt loss state, meaning you are required to wear your seatbelt, but police law enforcement must have another reason first to pull you over," said MoDOT Occupant Protection Coordinator Scott Jones.

Jones said, if Missouri had a 8 percent increase in seatbelt usage, roughly 43 lives would be saved. 

MoDOT will soon join the national campaign, "Click it or Ticket" to raise awareness of seat belt safety in May.