JEFFERSON CITY - For the sixth year, the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, along with various safety partners, schools and businesses throughout the state, are encouraging better driving behaviors as part of Buckle Up Phone Down Day; and this year, aiming for the goal of zero traffic fatalities throughout the day.
Missouri’s 2022 Seat Belt Usage Survey showed 89% of vehicle occupants use a seat belt, matching the highest rate the state has ever recorded. But the unbuckled 11% make up a majority of the state’s roadway fatalities, which reached a 15-year high in 2021. Cellphone use continues to be one of the most concerning behaviors for all roadway users. In 2021, over half of the distracted driving fatalities in Missouri claimed the life of someone besides the distracted driver.
“Last year was one of our worst years for roadway fatalities. It’s never been more important to look at ourselves as drivers and do our part to make our roadways safer,” said MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “We want the words ‘Buckle Up Phone Down’ echoing in the minds of each driver, encouraging them to take an active role in making our roads safe - ultimately resulting in thousands of lives saved.”
Since the program began in 2017, the BUPD movement has spread steadily across Missouri. More than 20,000 Missouri individuals and businesses have accepted the BUPD challenge, and more than a dozen other states are actively sharing the messages along their highways.
“The BUPD movement helps us reinforce the two simplest and most effective ways to save lives on our roadways – wearing your seatbelt and putting your phone down while driving,” said Robert Brinkmann, chairman of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety’s executive committee and the chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. “I encourage everyone to take BUPD Day as an opportunity to change your driving behavior for the better and help us achieve this zero-fatality day—hopefully the first of many to come.”