Most Common Characteristics of Fatal Crashes -1d - July.2020

The ultimate goal is zero fatalities.

MoDOT’s first tangible result is to keep customers and ourselves safe. The greatest challenge in providing this is the recurring frequency of fatal crashes on Missouri roadways. In order to combat this, MoDOT utilizes a comprehensive data-driven analysis to identify the most common contributing circumstances of severe crashes.

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Results Driver

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Chris Redline
Chris Redline
Title
District Engineer
Department
Northwest District
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Measurement Driver

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jon nelson
Jon Nelson
Title
Assistant to State Highway Safety & Traffic Engineer
Department
Highway Safety and Traffic
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Write Up:

MoDOT’s priority is to keep customers and employees safe. The greatest challenge to this is the recurring frequency of fatal crashes and serious injury crashes on Missouri roadways. In order to combat this, MoDOT utilizes crash data to identify the most common contributing circumstances of severe crashes. By identifying behaviors and characteristics most associated with these crashes, MoDOT can make more informed decisions to address the problem. While the most common causes are related to human behavior, MoDOT can help implement solutions through education, enforcement, engineering and emergency response to minimize poor decisions and their potential impact.

Missouri had 879 traffic fatalities in 2019. While nearly every category saw a decrease in 2019, aggressive driving continued to be the leading cause of fatal crashes in the state. Aggressive driving includes speeding, driving too fast for conditions, following too close and improper passing. These behaviors, along with impairment and distraction, account for most fatal crashes in the state. When coupled with the decision to not buckle up, the results are even more deadly. On a positive note, seat belt use in Missouri reached an all-time high in 2019, and the number of unbuckled fatalities was down 13% for the year. That said, 64% of the vehicle occupants killed in 2019 were not wearing a seat belt. Distracted driving crashes were also down for the year, though it should be noted that this behavior is often difficult for officers to prove and reflect in the crash report. Both measures indicate positive progress in two of MoDOT's targeted behaviors, buckling up and putting the phone down.

Through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, MoDOT continues to program millions of dollars in safety improvements each year, including curve improvements, high friction surface treatment, paved shoulders, rumble strips and intersection improvements such as J-Turns, turn lanes and pedestrian accommodations. These improvements are being identified through a data-driven, benefit-cost analysis to maximize the return on investment. On average, the state sees a six to one return on investment with these improvements. In addition, MoDOT continues to take advantage of federal safety funds for educational and enforcement programs to reduce poor driving behaviors. These programs allow other safety partners in the state to get involved in effort to move Missouri toward zero deaths. MoDOT will continue evaluating and implementing programs that successfully reach new audiences and prioritize a culture of highway safety in Missouri.

Purpose of Measure:

The measure tracks annual trends in motor-vehicle-related fatal resulting from the most common contributing factors or highway features. This data represents seven of the top focus areas presented in Missouri’s Blueprint to Save More Lives.

Measurement and Data Collection:

Missouri law enforcement agencies submit a vehicle accident report form to the Missouri State Highway Patrol to be entered into a statewide traffic crash database, which is part of the Transportation Management System. MoDOT staff query and analyze this data to determine the number of unrestrained occupants in crashes, how often aggressive driving, distracted driving, alcohol and other drugs contribute to crashes, and whether or not the vehicles ran off the road, the crash occurred in a curve or the crash occurred at an intersection.

The Highway Patrol experiences a lag in data entry each year which prohibits MoDOT from using current complete crash data. This lag is being reduced through a combination of efforts involving not only manual data entry, but also an increased emphasis in electronic data entry.