The COVID-19 pandemic that is changing our way of life in Missouri and across America has been the root cause of many unintended outcomes over the past year. In ways large and small, we’re adapting our way of living with an end goal of surviving this deathly scourge.
In St. Louis and throughout Missouri, we’ve changed our habits to wear a facemask, keep six feet apart, spritz hand sanitizer, order groceries online, work remotely, home school, get COVID-tested, skip sports activities, and, for the most part, stay off the road except for essential trips.
As the 2021 surge of coronavirus cases continues, these changes are likely to continue. Even more austere measures may be enacted.
In Missouri, we’re embracing many of these changes. In fact, we’re eliminating lots of trips. An important result is that traffic on the state’s streets, roads, and highways has dropped significantly. Since March 13, 2020, when COVID-19 struck, traffic is down 47%, according to John Hotz, Missouri State Highway Patrol captain.
You might think this drop would translate to fewer serious accidents. Instead, the number of crashes resulting in fatalities increased by 3% during this period, Hotz reported. Many were caused by drivers making clearly unsafe choices.
Despite Lockdowns and Lower Amounts of Traffic, Missouri Fatalities Continue to Rise
Some Missouri drivers are tossing safety out the window, with deadly consequences. According to WSIL News 3, people behind the wheel of a car are often ignoring traffic laws, are distracted, impaired, and likely to be speeding.
Sergeant Clark Parrott with the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported to WSIL News there are instances where drivers are distracted by the dog on their lap, while they’re consuming food or drink, surfing for music on their devices, checking their laptops, and other activities that take their eyes off the road.
They’re also likely to be speeding. Motorists doing 90 miles per hour is “unfortunately becoming commonplace,” Hotz told WSIL News. When excessive speed is a factor, a crash is more likely to result in fatalities, he said.
“We know the faster that you’re going when you have a traffic crash, the more severe that crash is going to be. There’s just no way around it, we can’t cheat the laws of physics,” Hotz said.
Drivers also appear to be growing less conscientious about wearing a seatbelt. This means these serious crashes leave deadly victims in their wake. In fact, across Missouri, in 68% of crashes, drivers and passengers who died were not wearing a seatbelt.
This problem played out in graphic detail over the Thanksgiving holiday when 8 people died in wrecks while not wearing a seatbelt. The senseless nature of such accidents is casting a pall on the Missouri state troopers called on to investigate grim crime scenes.
“It is alarming when you see the significant reduction in traffic and yet we’re still having the same number of fatal crashes or even a little bit more than what had we had last year,” Hotz said in an interview with WSIL News.
Missouri Traffic Fatality Statistics in 2020
The year 2020 has gotten a bad rap due to the coronavirus. An ever-growing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are reported unceasingly by the media. The traffic fatality statistics in Missouri are equally discouraging.
During a time when citizens are supposed to stay home, almost 1,000 people died in Missouri from serious traffic accidents, according to highway patrol statistics. This represents a 10% increase from 2019. It equates to 174 traffic fatalities statewide in 2020, compared to 168 the year before.
Because of statistics like these, highway patrol troopers are increasing their surveillance and developing new strategies to promote safer driving habits. In fact, more troopers have been deployed on the road of late to help turn the statistics in a more favorable direction.
Injured in an Accident? Contact Sansone & Lauber Today
When you’re hurt in an automobile accident, your life turns upside down. You may be concerned about missing work, caring for your family, and paying your medical bills. You may not know where to turn or whom to trust. Don’t suffer in silence.
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