The Missouri Safety Center and the University of Central Missouri recently released the results of the 2017 Missouri Seat Belt Usage Survey. The results showed that more Missourians are making the smart choice to buckle up. With sixty-five percent of Missouri’s traffic crash fatalities involving an unbelted motorist, the increase of seat belt usage will likely result in fewer deaths on Missouri roads.
The survey was conducted from 560 sites within the 28 Missouri counties on more than 115,000 vehicle occupants. The study showed that Missouri’s overall seatbelt usage is up to 84 percent. This is a 2.6 percent increase from 81.4 percent in 2016. However, Missouri still falls below the national average for seat belt usage, which remains at 90.1 percent. Furthermore, the survey report showed that vehicle passengers and females were more commonly belted, and that occupants of sport utility/crossover and van/minivans also had a higher rate of seat belt usage, at 86.5 percent. Pickup truck drivers and passenger had the lowest seat belt usage rate at 69.3 percent.
“With over 90 percent of traffic crashes attributed to human error, we know that most are preventable. However, a seat belt is your best defense in a vehicle crash,” said Bill Whitfield, chair of the executive committee of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “Pay attention, buckle up, and never drive distracted or impaired.”
Missouri is one of 15 states that do not have a primary seat belt law. However, 53 Missouri cities and two counties have adopted their own primary seat belt ordinances.
Meanwhile, last week marked the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week. Throughout the week, law enforcement personnel were on heightened alert for unsafe driving behaviors on our roadways. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies engaged in educational outreach throughout the week in an effort to encourage safety, especially with commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). According to MoDOT, commercial motor vehicles are a vital part of the economy as they deliver goods from coast to coast. In fact, CMV’s account for 20 percent of all traffic on Missouri’s interstates.
During the Safe Driver Week, law enforcement officials were on the lookout for dangerous behavior such as speeding, distracted driving, texting, failure to use a safety belt while operating a CMV or in a passenger vehicle, traveling too closely, improper lane change, and failure to obey traffic control devices, among others. MoDOT focused on safety around CMV’s due to serious injuries or even death which can result from a small car colliding with a large CMV. There were 132 motorists killed and 4,034 injured in Missouri traffic crashes involving a CMV in 2016. MoDOT recommends the following tips for sharing the road with large commercial vehicles:
- Don’t cut off large trucks or buses when passing. Make sure you can see the top of the truck or bus in your rearview mirror before moving back into your original lane.
- Stay out of the “No Zone.” Big trucks have large blind spots on either side and up to 200 feet behind a vehicle. Pass only on the left side.
- Watch your following distance. Keep a 20-25 car length distance around trucks. Can you see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you.
For more information, MoDOT encourages Missourians to visit its website, www.saveMOlives.com, or call the MoDOT Customer Service Center toll free, at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636).