About 425 Missouri highway safety professionals and law enforcement officers are meeting in Columbia, aiming to eliminate all traffic deaths in Missouri.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield helped organize the conference.
“It’s our opportunity to get all of the different disciplines of highway safety together, from enforcement and educators and engineers, emergency medical personnel, first responders, media folks to come together and just talk about highway safety,” Whitfield says.
MoDOT says speeding accounts for more than one-third of fatality crashes in the Show-Me State. Whitfield says a driver is the first level of defense.
“We know that over 90 percent of all the roadway fatalities, motor vehicle crashes that occur are due to human error,” says Whitfield.
MoDOT notes Missouri law enforcement officers issued 1,951 speeding citations in late July, as part of the “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” multi-state campaign. In addition to Missouri, the campaign involved Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
During the July campaign, Missouri law enforcement targeted Interstates 70, 44, 55 and 35. MoDOT says that’s where most of Missouri’s speed-related crashes occur.
Another problem area that is being discussed at the Columbia conference is in the Gateway City.
The Federal Highway Administration has named St. Louis as a “focus city” for pedestrian fatalities, which means it has 20 or more pedestrian fatalities per year.
Natural Bridge Avenue is seven times more likely than any other St. Louis street to be the site of a fatality crash. Whitfield says Natural Bridge has seen numerous crashes involving pedestrians.
“What we really need to be mindful of there is having that eye contact with the pedestrian to the vehicle, vehicle to the pedestrian, and just making sure that we are seeing and have been seen,” Whitfield says.
A St. Louis Police representative at the conference tells Missourinet police have issued more than 3,000 tickets on Natural Bridge.
In July, the U.S. Department of Transportation, MoDOT, St. Louis Police and the St. Louis Street Department conducted a road safety audit on Natural Bridge. The aim was to evaluate safety conditions for pedestrians and drivers.
State Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, St. Louis Alderman Brandon Bosley and several others also participated in that July safety audit, which included walking the Natural Bridge corridor.
As far as statewide numbers, MoDOT says 347 pedestrians were killed in accidents between 2013 and 2016.
A total of 475 people have died in Missouri motorcycle crashes since 2012, with 122 deaths in 2016.
Whitfield urges you to buckle up, slow down and to put your phone down.
Former Mizzou Athletic Director Mike Alden will deliver the keynote Friday morning at 11 at Columbia’s Holiday Inn Executive Center. Alden will discuss leadership and team building.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth and MoDOT Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield, which was recorded on September 28, 2017 at Columbia’s Holiday Inn Executive Center: