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Fatalities on southwest Missouri roads are up - KOAM TV 7

Fatalities on southwest Missouri roads are up

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The number of fatalities on Southwest Missouri roads spikes.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says those fatal crashed have climbed 48% over this time last year.

The Missouri Department of Transportation and law enforcement say they are doing their part to prevent deaths but its drivers themselves that need to get on board with safety.

As of June 9, Southwest Missouri had 71 fatalities on roads including several involving pedestrians.  That's compared to 48 last year at this time.

Officials say upgrading Highway 71 to interstate standards is helping by adding entrance and exit ramps, and eliminating all grade level crossings from county roads.

But road construction underway adds a danger for drivers.

The sheriff's office says people speed in construction zones, especially when merging into one-lane, causing accidents.

Officials also say there has been an increase in motorcycle and scooter crashes as people ride those to save gas.

MODOT is beginning to focus on lettered highways that don't have shoulders and lead to rollover crashes.

"To add those rumble stripes in it adds a little bit of a shoulder which is a benefit but also the  rumble that warns people they're close to the edge," says Dan Salisbury, an Associate District Engineer for MODOT.

"It gives you a little more time to react if you do drop that wheel off the shoulder, there's more safety barrier there, gives you a little more time to slow down, get your vehicle back on the road safely," says Lt. Dan Davis of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.

Rollover crashes aren't always fatal but the odds increase dramatically when someone doesn't wear a seatbelt.  The highway patrol and others urge drivers to do four things to avoid fatal crashes:  Buckle up.  Slow down.  Pay attention.  Don't drink or do drugs.

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