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Tremendous rise in death toll on Missouri highways - KOAM TV 7

Tremendous rise in death toll on Missouri highways

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Missouri State Trooper John Lueckenhoff notes gas prices are down and drivers on the road are up. Deaths on southwest Missouri highways have seen a 33 percent increase this year alone.

"We know that people are still not paying complete attention while driving, we still know people are not wearing their seat belts, but we also know we have a lot more cars on the road this year and all those things combined have lead to the very serious problem we are facing this year," Lueckenhoff said.

Nationwide, highway-driving deaths are up 14 percent. The state of Missouri records a 10 percent increase. Meaning southwest Missouri alone has tripled the state average.

"The numbers we're looking at now, simply bucking the seat belt would have saved nearly 200 people," Lueckenhoff said.

Missouri Department of Transportation is doing their part to help you out behind the wheel.

"We're always looking for new ways to make the highways safer to drive. Signals and things to try and get your attention, to stops ahead or signage that alerts you to curves that you might not be aware of.  All these things we do to try and make sure that you know what's coming your way as you travel down the road," Senior Communications Specialist David Mitchell said.

Inattention including texting or dealing with passengers is a leading cause of crashes. Unsafe speeds is the number one cause for fatalities within crashes.

"Slow down. Pay attention. Put your cell phone away. Don't drink and drive and certainly most importantly, buckle that seat belt. That gives you the greatest opportunity to survive if you've made one of these other mistakes," Lueckenhoff said.

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