Traffic fatalities see increase

Missouri State Highway Patrol said there is a 15% increase in traffic fatalities from this time last year. They also shared traffic statistics from over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Traffic deaths worked by the Missouri State Highway Patrol over the holiday weekend brought the state’s total fatalities to 450 for 2020, marking a 15% increase from the first half of last year.

Of those fatalities, about 71% of the victims were unbuckled, the patrol reported. When asked about this and the percentage of those incidents where a seat belt was not used, Sgt. Jake Angle of the patrol’s Troop H, said officers need the public’s help.

“We need people every time they get in cars to put that seat belt on,” he said. “We need them to put their phones down, pay attention, give 100% of their attention to the job of driving and obey traffic laws.”

During the Fourth of July weekend, troopers worked 294 traffic crashes, which included five fatalities, statewide. There were 139 DWI arrests and 126 drug arrests made over the holiday weekend.

In addition, there were nine boating crashes that included four injuries but no fatalities. Troopers made six BWI arrests and 25 drug arrests and there was one drowning over the weekend.

However, in the Northwest area of the state, things were quieter on the roads this holiday.

“Overall, we recorded five crashes over the accounting period, over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. We had four injuries, no fatalities, which is great here in Northwest Missouri,” Angle said. “That’s exactly what we want to see. Obviously, we’d love to see no crashes and no injuries, but only five crashes with four injuries, zero fatalities, was awesome.”

Troopers also took seven impaired drivers off the roadway in the area, which helped reduce the number of crashes, he said.

Angle said it’s important that those who are going to include drinking in holiday celebrations make plans to get home safely.

“We can’t stress that enough, if your plans over a holiday, any holiday weekend, any holiday travel period, includes alcohol, again, to make those plans ahead of time. Have that sober designated driver, have that place to stay, whatever it is,” Angle said. “When people choose to get behind the wheel impaired, they put themselves at risk, other people in their car, if there are people with them, at risk and then other motorists on the roadway at risk.”

Maykayla Hancock can be reached at makayla.hancock@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowHancock.