Increase in vehicle fatalities

Locally there has been a 23% increase in vehicle fatalities compared to this time last year.

Traffic fatalities on Northwest Missouri’s roads and highways are up 23% compared to this time last year.

So far this year there have been 26 traffic deaths in the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop H zone, which covers this region. At this time last year there were 21 fatalities due to crashes.

Statewide, fatalities are up by 12%, according to patrol reports.

Sgt. Jake Angle of Troop H said drivers need to be extra aware.

“We need people to buckle up, also we need people paying strict attention to the jobs of driving. Putting those phones down, don’t eat while you drive, pay attention to the road,” he said.

Angle said that with so many of fatalities listed as not wearing seat belts, he wonders if the use of a safety device could have saved a life.

“At one point this year we reached a number as high as 70% of those fatalities were unrestrained,” Angle said.

He said drivers and passengers need to be more aware when getting into a vehicle to go anywhere.

“Please every time you get in a car put your seat belt on. Every single time. I mean I don’t care if you’re going a mile or a hundred miles, you need to click that seat belt,” Angle said.

A seat belt paired with no distractions is the safest bet while driving, even if you have to turn to technology for help with that.

“I encourage people all the time to use technology. We have those phones, phones can be set up now to where if somebody tried to call or text you it sends an automatic message that says ‘I can’t take your call right now I’m driving,’” he said. “Use that technology so that way when that phone whistles, buzzes, vibrates, whatever, you’re not tempted to look.”

Angle said troopers have paid attention to when and where fatal crashes have been occurring. Because of that, people can expect to see them patrolling high-risk areas.

Morgan Riddell can be reached at morgan.riddell@newspressnow.com