Adam Watson

Adam Watson, Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer, supports the Buckle Up, Phone Down campaign. The campaign encourages drivers to wear their seat belts and resist the urge to use their phone.

The Missouri Department of Transportation and Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are sponsoring the 3rd annual Buckle Up Phone Down day today across the entire state of Missouri.

The day is a part of their campaign throughout the year to encourage drivers to buckle up for safety and resist the urge to use a phone while driving.

The campaign recently broke 10,000 individuals and businesses that accepted the challenge against distracted driving.

Missouri is currently one of two states without laws banning texting while driving for all ages. Only drivers under the age of 21 can’t text while driving.

Adam Watson, MoDOT area engineer, hopes this reminds people how important it is to concentrate on the road.

“In my day, driving is going to be the most dangerous thing I do,” Watson said. “I owe it to the people around me to drive safely,” Watson said.

According to data the two sponsors have collected, texting increases the risk of a car crash by 50 percent. Drivers that are unbelted have a 1 in 27 chance of being killed in an accident, compared to 1 in 1,239 chance with wearing a seat belt.

“There are people that are driving not fully attentive and your best defense is wearing your seat belt,” Watson said.

Watson said not only do drivers need to be careful around other vehicles, but also around pedestrians.

“Pedestrian deaths are up in the country,” Watson said. “Part of the reason is because of distracted driving and people not paying attention to the pedestrian that’s substantially smaller in their field of view.”

Watson hopes drivers pay closer attention to pedestrians in the roadway with Halloween on Thursday and an increased number of kids on the streets.

The campaign has been successful at making people aware of the distracted driving issues, but Watson said the number of crash deaths throughout Missouri is still too high.

“We’ve had almost 700 crash deaths in Missouri this year, and if we can make some behavior changes to our driving to change that, then I’d love that,” Watson said.

Watson encourages individuals to take the challenge and go to MoDOT.org/BuckleUpPhoneDown to sign up.

Bailey Ketcham can be reached at bailey.ketcham@newspressnow.com.