While the number of fatal car accidents rose across the country in 2016, St. Joseph was a shining bright spot. According to the St. Joseph Police Department, traffic fatalities in the city were down to their lowest number in well over a decade. While some luck might be involved, the police have made a conscious effort to do all they can to bring the number down in the past few years, and now it seems to be paying off.
Road Fatalities Increased in the U.S. in 2016
Across the country, road fatalities were at their highest point in a decade. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. This was the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people died in car accidents on the roads of the U.S. It was also a 6.5% increase over 2015’s numbers, which had been a 7% increase over the fatality total from 2014. Together, the nearly 14% increase was the largest two-year spike in more than fifty years.
This two-year increase was even more drastic in Missouri. Between 2014 and 2016, road fatalities in our state have increased by 24%.
Fewest Fatal Car Accidents in St. Joseph in 15 Years
The city of St. Joseph, however, fared far better than the rest of Missouri and the United States. The St. Joseph Police Department only reported one fatality within the city limits. This was the lowest number reported in at least the last 15 years.
“It’s something we’re very proud of,” Sergeant Chris McBane said. “We worked really hard last year on increasing our traffic-safety awareness, and targeting specific areas where we have more traffic crashes as a whole. It was nice to see that our whole hard work kind of had a pay off to it.”
The police in St. Joseph have been focusing on two of the biggest culprits for crash fatalities: Alcohol and not using seatbelts.
According to the police, not wearing a seatbelt was a factor in over half of the road fatalities in the past five years. Numbers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that Missouri is 41st in the nation in seatbelt usage. According to Sergeant McBane, seatbelt usage in Buchanan County is below the Missouri average. To rectify this, police in St. Joseph have targeted young drivers to encourage them to buckle up.
As for the other culprit of road fatalities, St. Joseph police have stepped up DWI patrols to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. This comes after 2017 started with two deaths due to drunk drivers. The only road fatality of 2016, a pedestrian hit by a car, involved alcohol, as well.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
While the national numbers are up, it’s encouraging to see St. Joseph doing all that it can to keep people safe on the roads. Despite everyone’s best efforts though, you could still find yourself in a terrible car accident. To get the legal help you need, call the personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.