Patrick McKenna, Missouri’s Department of Transportation director, is concerned with the growing number of fatal accidents taking place on the state’s roads. For the year of 2016, there have been in excess of 800 fatalities, and it’s expected that this number will reach 900 before 2017 arrives.
In order to put this number in context, it’s important to know past statistics, and, when you do, it helps to more clearly reveal the extent of the problem. Missouri is currently up seven percent in traffic accident fatalities than it was this time last year, and officials like McKenna are putting efforts into figuring out reasons for this increase.
While there are a number of reasons an accident can occur, there are two catalysts in particular that McKenna has focused on them particularly. He is actively pushing for legislature that will help fix the problem.
Currently, there is a ban in Missouri on texting while driving for those under 21. However, other than that, there are no laws preventing the use of mobile devices on the road. McKenna announced on Tuesday that it’s his intention to push for a ban on cell phone use for anyone driving Missouri roads. He announced his plans during a meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission in Cape Girardeau.
Another area of concern that McKenna addressed is current seat belt laws. While it is considered an offense not to wear a seat belt, it’s only a secondary offense. This means that failure to wear a seat belt cannot be the primary reason for an officer of the law to pull over a motorist. This means that, while you can be cited for no seat belt during a traffic stop for expired tags, the officer would otherwise not be able to initiate the traffic stop if the tags were renewed.
Along with strengthening cell phone use laws, McKenna is fighting to make the failure to wear a seat belt while driving a primary offense. It’s McKenna’s strong suggestion that these measures will decrease the number of traffic-related deaths in the state.