Hundreds of safety advocates are in Columbia this week to discuss ways to reverse Missouri’s spike in traffic fatalities.

MoDOT Logo 2The Traffic Safety and Blueprint Conference begins Tuesday afternoon and runs through Thursday at Columbia’s Holiday Inn Executive Center. MODOT Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield says about 470 safety advocates will attend.

“They’ll be city, county and state law enforcement. We’ve got some high schools coming in, universities, different safety advocates, metropolitan planning organizations, regional planning commissions,” Whitfield says.

Missouri saw a 14 percent increase in traffic crash fatalities between 2014 to 2015, from 766 to 870. Whitfield says the numbers are also increasing nationally.

“Nationally, there are 96 people dying every day. In Missouri we are losing two people every 11 hours due to motor vehicle crashes,” Whitfield says.

Whitfield says there have been 723 fatalities so far, this year. He says speeding is a contributing factor in 40 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

Missouri’s strategic highway safety plan, which will be unveiled Tuesday, is called “Missouri’s Blueprint: a Partnership Toward Zero Deaths.”