Safety was the key word in discussions at a recent task force meeting in Jefferson City, Mo., that discussed Missouri’s transportation system.
The task force, named Missouri’s 21st Century Transportation System task force, is charged with reviewing the funding of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
Between 1999-2016, MoDOT installed 800 miles of guard cable on Missouri interstates. According to MoDOT representatives, the guard cable has saved more than 500 lives. The cost of the safety cables, approximately $125,000 per mile. And another $10,000 per mile is needed to maintain annually.
Missouri has the seventh-largest state highway system, with 33,884 miles of roadway.
MoDOT says fatality crashes increased nine percent in 2016. Hood testifies 950 people died in Missouri traffic crashes in 2016.
Deaths continue to occur as motorists continue to drive without buckling up, driving intoxicated, texting while driving, and speeding. Sometimes deaths result because all of these factors. Deaths from traffic crashes increased nine percent in 2016, with 950 deaths in 2016 alone.
There are 16 states, including Missouri, without a primary seat belt law. Considering that Missouri is 50th ranked in a safety report by the National Safety Council (NSC).
This fact has MoDOT out front pushing state lawmakers to approve a primary seatbelt law. Already 53 municipalities have passed their own primary seat belt laws.
Some of the suggestions for increased driving safety have been strengthening laws for child passengers, no-texting laws, seatbelt laws, and the use of red-light traffic cameras.
MoDOT has come out to describe distracted driving that includes texting to be an epidemic, with nearly 40,000 deaths a year across the nation. MoDOT bans its drivers from driving and texting, and some 250 companies across the state are committing to ban its employees from texting and driving while on duty. Recommendations from the task force are expected by the first of next year.
With Missouri being the 47th lowest in fuel taxes in the nation, the task force is looking to fund the increased safety measures with a potential fuel tax increase. Strong opposition is expected to block any fuel tax increase.