Bad news for those of us in Missouri who value traffic safety: fatalities in car accidents are up significantly in 2021, as are collisions overall.
The Missouri Department of Transportation reports 34 deaths in auto accidents as of mid-September. By this time last year, 26 people had been killed in accidents. The overall number of collisions appears to be up also, though KQ2 does not have statewide information. A spokesman for Troop H of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said his department has seen a 30 percent increase in crashes so far this year.
Construction zones are especially dangerous this year
Some of the most dangerous areas this year have been construction zones. Collisions in work zones have gone up 25 percent. These accidents tend to happen when a driver goes too fast through the zone or is not paying attention. Inattentive or reckless drivers are more likely to crash into a construction vehicle or, worse, a member of the road crew.
Bad drivers put the public at risk everywhere
Speeding and distracted driving are menaces anywhere on the road. They are both forms of driver negligence because they unreasonably raise the risk of a severe car accident. Every driver in Missouri owes the other people on the road a duty of due care. They break that responsibility when they do not take reasonable steps to drive safely, like obeying traffic laws and keeping their full attention on the road.
It is not yet clear why car crashes are up this year. Last year, traffic was down sharply nationwide due to lockdowns, and Missouri was no exception. At the same time, many states had a high number of traffic deaths due to drivers speeding and taking more chances on the relatively empty highways and city streets. We will have to see if this is the start of a grim trend or if there will be fewer deadly wrecks in 2022.