With 2016 now in the books, the Missouri State Highway Patrol can finally say it officially: It was a particularly bad year for fatal car accidents. In all, there were no fewer than 931 fatalities on the roads of Missouri in 2016. This was a significant increase from 2015’s total of 870 fatalities. Experts have isolated numerous reasons that contributed to the increased fatality number, from the economy to the low seatbelt usage in our state.
2016 Saw Increase in Fatal Car Accidents in Missouri
An additional 61 deaths from car accidents might not seem like very many. However, that difference between 2015’s total and 2016’s final represents a 7% increase, which is far from insignificant. In fact, the trend has been described by Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant John Lueckenhoff as “disturbing.” The rise in the fatality rate means that 2.55 people lost their lives on Missouri roads every day.
The 7% increase is a statewide trend. Some areas of Missouri actually saw their fatality total drop – Troop D, which covers southwest Missouri, saw a 12% decrease in the number of car accident fatalities.
Economy and Gas Prices Partly to Blame
According to experts, two of the culprits for the rise in fatal car accidents have been the growing economy and low gas prices.
When the unemployment rate is low, more people commute to and from work. They also have more money to spend, making them more likely to drive to stores and travel on vacation. Both of these facts result in more cars on the road, increasing the total number of car accidents and fatalities.
Low gas prices exacerbate this problem. When gas prices are low, like they have been over the past few years, more people are willing to travel on vacation or for the holidays. This increases the number of cars on the road, which makes the risk of a car accident increase, as well.
Missouri’s Seatbelt Record
While the economy is one factor in the increase in fatal car accidents, Missouri’s poor seatbelt record is another. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 81.4% of drivers in Missouri do use their seatbelt, putting it well below the national rate of 88.5%.
This is significant because, according to Sgt. Lueckenhoff, 61% of those who died in car accidents in Missouri were not wearing their seatbelt. This means that more than three out of every five people who died in a car accident in Missouri came from the 18.6% of Missouri drivers who don’t use their restraints.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at Smith Law Office
With more and more drivers on the road, the odds of getting involved in a serious car accident have increased. Unfortunately, every crash comes with the potential of a severe personal injury, especially if you don’t use your seatbelt.
If you get hurt in a car accident, the attorneys at the Smith Law Office can help you get the compensation that you need to make a full recovery. By legally representing you both in and out of court, our attorneys fight for your rights and interests. Contact us online or at (816) 875-9373.