Despite the COVID pandemic and fewer vehicles on the road, southwest Missouri’s Springfield had a record 27 traffic fatalities in 2020.

Springfield Police saw a record 27 traffic fatalities in 2020. Speed and distracted driving were the primary factors in most of them (2020 photo courtesy of Jasmine Bailey at the Springfield PD)

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams is urging residents to slow down.

“The pandemic had a double-edged sword effect in traffic,” Williams says. “There was less traffic but people seemed to drive faster and be less interested in paying attention to what they were doing.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol also warned about this issue several times last year.

Williams says speed and distracted driving are the primary factors in the traffic fatalities. He also tells Missourinet that Springfield Police wrote twice as many speeding tickets in 2020 as the previous year.

Chief Williams notes 13 of the 27 victims were traveling on motorcycles. He’s urging motorists to slow down, and to watch for motorcycles on both sides of their vehicle.

“We’ve created a motorcycle safety program that we kicked off internally for city employees earlier in the year, and we’re looking at rolling that out to the general public here in 2021,” says Williams.

Five of the victims were pedestrians.

“We got a grant from the state to do some pedestrian safety education and enforcement. Getting ready to kick that off,” Chief Williams says.

Springfield has about 168,000 residents.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams, which was recorded on January 4, 2021:

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