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JEFFERSON CITY - Last year, 757 people were killed in vehicle crashes on Missouri highways. To date in 2014, there have been 550 deaths. Speeding, impaired driving, not wearing seatbelts and distracted driving are some of the leading causes. In a new effort to warn drivers to focus on the road, the Missouri Department of Transportation is using its more than 250 dynamic message signs on interstates and major highways to send a message.
"Messages like ‘Put Down Your Phone and Drive, It Can Wait' or ‘Leave All Tailgating at the Game' are designed to raise awareness of these driving behaviors," said MoDOT Traffic Management and Operations Engineer Jon Nelson. "Driving is a serious task that demands your attention. We hope our sometimes humorous and interesting messages will remind drivers to refocus on the task at hand."
Messages are changed each month and focus on seasonal issues or safety enforcement campaigns. October messages include "Unbuckled? Seriously", "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All, It Can Wait", "If You Can't See Trucks Mirrors, They Can't See You", and "Drinking and Driving Don't Mix."
"The primary purpose of the dynamic message signs is to share incident and work zone information to motorists," said Nelson. "When we don't have these incidents, we are using the message signs to share driving safety information instead of just leaving them blank."
One of the main messages for October is no texting. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of a football field - blindfolded! Every two seconds your eyes are off the road, you are twice as likely to be in a crash.
MoDOT is interested in the public's ideas for safe driving messages or message topics. You can send your ideas to MoDOT at http://www.modot.org/. Click on Contact Us at the top of the page. For more information on the dangers of distracted driving, visit www.savemolives.org/distracted-driving.html.