Roadway deaths in Missouri drop in 2023 after years of upward trend, data shows


Missouri – Missouri has reported a decrease in roadway fatalities for the first time since 2019, marking an end to the year-over-year increase in such tragic incidents. According to preliminary data, the state saw 989 fatalities on its roadways in 2023, indicating a 6% decrease compared to the 1,057 fatalities reported in 2022.

A Closer Look at the Trends

Over the past five years, Missouri’s roadway fatalities have presented a concerning upward trend, with numbers steadily increasing from 881 in 2019 to a peak of 1,057 in 2022. However, the preliminary data for 2023 shows a decrease in fatalities, as detailed below:

  • 2019: 881 fatalities
  • 2020: 987 fatalities
  • 2021: 1,016 fatalities
  • 2022: 1,057 fatalities
  • 2023*: 989 fatalities (*preliminary data)

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Despite this decrease, the statistics still translate to nearly three lives lost on Missouri’s roads every day, underscoring a persistent need for vigilance and safety measures.

Factors Contributing to Roadway Fatalities

The Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) have identified several major factors contributing to roadway fatalities, including the lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, impaired driving, and aggressive behaviors such as speeding.

  • In 2023, 63% of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing a seat belt.
  • Distracted driving was a factor in more than 100 deaths, with over half of the victims being someone other than the distracted driver.
  • Impaired driving accounted for approximately 17% of the fatalities.
  • Speeding and aggressive driving behaviors were the leading causes of fatalities, contributing to more than half of the total deaths.

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Motorcyclist Fatalities Reach an All-Time High

While the overall number of roadway fatalities has decreased, the number of motorcyclist deaths has reached a record high. Preliminary data indicates that 175 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2023, marking a 14% increase from the 153 fatalities in 2022. This surge in motorcyclist fatalities, the highest ever reported in Missouri, is nearly 50% higher than the average number of such deaths prior to the repeal of Missouri’s all-rider helmet law in 2020. Safety experts point to the lack of helmet use as a significant factor contributing to this increase.

As Missouri reflects on these mixed results, the focus remains on reinforcing safety measures and promoting responsible driving behaviors to further reduce the number of lives lost on the state’s roadways.

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