Seat belts and texting while driving highlighted in Missouri transportation task force report

January 8, 2018 By Brian Hauswirth

Missouri’s transportation system task force is recommending a primary seat belt law, which would allow police officers to enforce the law as a stand-alone offense.

Committee chairman State Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, unveiled the recommendations to the Capitol Press Corps on the opening day of the 2018 session.

“We were ranked 50th or last in terms of a safety report by the National Safety Council,” Corlew says. “And that was in large part about some of the legislation that dealt with driver behavior.”

The report says there were 947 traffic fatalities on Missouri roads in 2016, and that sixty percent of victims were not wearing seat belts.

The task force says a primary seat belt law is aimed at saving lives. Chairman Corlew tells reporters it’s important to keep our highways as safe as possible for every motorist.

“One of the things that we found in our hearings was that a primary seat belt law increases seat belt use by about seven percent,” says Corlew.

Corlew was joined at the Jefferson City press conference by House Transportation Committee chairman State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, who says 64 percent of Missourians killed on the road in 2017 were not wearing seat belts.

The task force is also recommending a ban on texting while driving.

The report reads, in part: “Preliminary 2016 data also indicates cell phones were involved in 2,379 crashes, a 23-percent increase since 2014. People are 23 times more likely to be in a critical incident when a driver texts and drives.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has testified that driver inattention is the leading cause of traffic crashes in the Show-Me State.

The task force is also recommending a ten-cent gasoline tax increase and a 12-cent diesel tax increase.

Missouri’s fuel tax hasn’t been increased since 1996.

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