Two people were killed on Missouri roads over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Highway Patrol Captain Tim Hull says that’s way down from the 14 deaths during last year’s holiday counting period, but that the two fatal crashes this year offer a sobering reminder… both victims were not wearing seatbelts.
Hull says in one of the accidents, the driver who was wearing a seatbelt survived, but the passenger who was not buckled in was killed. One fatal crash happened in Springfield … the other in West Central Missouri’s Benton County.
On Thanksgiving Day, 35-year-old Jason Teale of Springfield was killed when he lost control of his car and struck a parked car and then a tree. Another fatal accident Sunday in Benton County claimed the life of 58-year-old Jerry Puckett of Kansas City when the car he was riding in crossed the center line and hit two other vehicles.
Hull says that while fatalities were way down this year, alcohol-related arrests were on the rise.
He says Wednesday and Sunday saw the highest spike in highway traffic, which is typical on four-day holiday weekends.
Last year, Hull says there were 14 traffic deaths during Thanksgiving weekend.
Looking at all of 2009, road fatalities are on the decrease. Currently, there have been 759 for the year; there were 861 at the same time last year.
Here’s how the numbers break out in comparison to 2008’s Thanksgiving holiday counting period, which goes from Wednesday through Sunday:
Last year, troopers investigated 488 crashes, 143 injuries, 14 fatalities, and arrested 114 motorists for driving under the influence. This year, there were 333 crashes, 126 injuries, two fatalities, and 135 DUI arrests. Hull noted that DUI arrests were on the increase, and warns motorists that the patrol will be out in force for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to crack down on drinking and driving.
Another contributing factor to the low number of crashes and traffic deaths this year, Hull says, might have been the weather. Motorists enjoyed clear, sunny skies and mild conditions for most of the holiday weekend.