MoDOT says that for the third year in a row, more than 900 people were killed in Missouri traffic crashes.

Preliminary numbers indicate 918 lives were lost in 2018, down slightly from 932 fatalities in 2017. According to MoDOT, speed, distraction, impairment and fatigue continue to be the top causes of fatal crashes. In particular, the number of cell phone related crashes has become increasingly prevalent in the state.

“Cellphone related crashes are up 35 percent since 2014,” said Jon Nelson, MoDOT assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer. “It’s one of the fastest growing causes of fatal crashes in Missouri, and like most other contributing factors, it’s completely preventable.”

MoDOT says nearly all fatal crashes are preventable if drivers heed warnings of speed limits, traffic signs and laws. Likewise, everyone can help improve safety by taking two simple actions: always buckle up and put down the phone when driving.

While a recent survey indicates more Missourians are buckling up than ever before, the impacts of not wearing a seat belt and using the phone are hard to ignore. MoDOT says that drivers of pick-up trucks are over-represented as they reportedly have the lowest seat belt usage rate in the state.

“Eighty-seven percent of Missourians are buckling up. However, the few who aren’t account for more than 60 percent of our traffic fatalities,” said Nelson. “When it comes to cell phones, nobody wants to be on the road with a driver constantly using their phone, but so many people find it acceptable to do themselves. We can do better.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol