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Missouri ranks last in road safety, according to National Safety Coalition

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A national report put Missouri dead last when it comes to adequate road safety laws that address "preventable accidents." 

The National Safety Council gave Missouri an "F" rating in a June report on road, home and workplace safety. 

Road safety encompassed things like seat belt usage, impaired driving and distracted driving. Currently, Missouri does have a law on the books banning texting and driving for those under 21, but it does not extend to all drivers. The report also faulted Missouri's secondary seat belt law and lack of child restraint regulations.

The report said Missouri had, on average, 932 road safety-related deaths annually that could have been prevented with proper legislation.

Since June, not much has changed for Missouri, but officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation said it never stops trying to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt.

"We're always working on highway safety and the behavioral side of highway safety to encourage individuals to buckle up everyone, every trip, every time," said MoDOT highway safety director Bill Whitfield. "We encourage people to dedicate 100 percent of their time to driving, and by that we mean, staying off your cellphone."

Whitefield said they're hoping for some movement in the state legislature on several of the points the report indicated Missouri was "off track" on, especially seat belt and texting laws. The current secondary seat belt law on the books in Missouri says law enforcement can't pull someone over for not wearing their seat belt and Whitfield said they would like to change that. Additionally, they're hoping for an all-drivers texting ban.

State representative Chuck Basye said Friday that there is legislation introduced each year to address traffic safety. Last year, Representative Nate Walker introduced an all-driver texting ban, but it didn't get very far. Missouri is one of three states that does not have an all-driver texting ban.

Basye said road, as well as home and workplace safety, are priorities, but that legislation hasn't picked up the traction it needs in the legislature. 

"We should put a little more energy behind that," he said.

Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Arkansas were among the other states that also received an "F" overall. No state received an "A" rating.


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