Safety Results

Strengthening and Growing the Buckle Up Phone Down Movement

Distracted driving remains a leading cause of crashes in Missouri. Between 2012 and 2021, there were more than 200,000 distracted driving-related crashes across the state, resulting in at least 801 fatalities. After two years in a row of more than 1,000 fatalities on Missouri’s roadways, Gov. Mike Parson signed the Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law in June 2023, prohibiting all drivers from using a handheld electronic communication device while driving. With the law in effect as of August 2023, drivers are prohibited from physically holding or supporting a cell phone with any part of their body; manually typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages; recording, posting, sending or broadcasting video, including video calls and social media posts; and watching a video or movie.


“We’ve seen a troubling and unacceptable trend of distracted driving crashes in recent years, and sadly, more times than not, someone other than the distracted driver was killed,” said MoDOT State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “We’re thankful the General Assembly and Gov. Parson recognized the need for a hands-free law in Missouri. We’re hopeful this law will change the

safety culture around phone use while driving and save lives.” In addition to the new secondary law, MoDOT’s Buckle Up Phone Down (BUPD) program was also recognized as a “First Mover” in the U.S. DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, released in February 2023. The strategy is a new, comprehensive approach to reversing the rise in traffic fatalities nationwide. MoDOT’s Call to Action challenges Missourians to do their part in making Missouri’s roads safer by using their seat belt and putting down, or turning off, their phone while driving. MoDOT initiated the BUPD program in 2017, and it has spread steadily across Missouri with more than 38,000 individuals and businesses pledging to BUPD. The movement has also spanned across the country, with more than half of state departments of transportation participating and sharing the message. Many of these states celebrated “National Buckle Up Phone Down Day” with Missouri on Oct. 25, with messages shared nationwide from Alaska to Puerto Rico.

Reduction in Injuries Observations, Near Misses, Close Calls

The implementation of Observations, Near Misses and Close Calls provides a reporting system for all employees to systematically reduce incidents through identifying risks that lead to injury. These programs provide the eyes and ears to identify and fix issues before an incident occurs. MoDOT’s new safety dashboard has led to unprecedented success in increasing participation in its safety observation program in the first three months.  The program focuses the following three leading indicators:  

  • Observations = 300% increase!

  • Near Misses = 675% increase!

  • Good Catches = 880% increase!


$1.8 Billion in Safety Benefits, 150 Lives Saved

The Smooth Roads Initiative and Better Roads, Brighter Future programs were back-to-back efforts that improved 5,600 miles of highways. Completed earlier than scheduled, the efforts delivered smoother pavement, brighter striping, rumble stripes and other safety improvements to the highways that carry 76% of Missouri’s traffic. These improvements have resulted in more than $1.7 billion of safety benefits to customers since 2007.


$7.4 Billion in Total Customer Savings, 701 Lives Saved

To improve roadway safety, MoDOT has provided treatments on roadways to address “run-off-the-road” crashes. By installing thousands of miles of shoulders and rumble strips on rural highways, MoDOT has reduced severe crashes by 30%. Guard cable is used on portions of interstates and other major routes, drastically reducing the number of median crossover crashes, which are often fatal. Also, high-grip surface treatments have achieved a 20% reduction in run-off-the-road crashes and help hold vehicles in the driving lanes. Electronic truck screening allows prequalified trucks to safely bypass weigh stations. 


$691 Million in Total MoDOT Savings, 95 Lives Saved

The Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), first used in Springfield, Mo., in 2009, solves major traffic and safety issues at a much lower cost than traditional interchange designs. Missouri now has 25 DDIs. Many other states have followed suit, with at least one DDI of their own. J-Turns are a cost-effective alternative to an overpass on four-lane highways and reduce the number and severity of crashes. At locations where J-Turns are installed, crashes are down 25% and there are 88% fewer fatalities. Missouri also uses shared four-lane highways that feature alternating passing lanes to give motorists periodic opportunities to pass without pulling into the opposing lane.


After completing its first State Action Plan for Highway/Railroad Crossings last year, MoDOT identified the need for additional funding to improve rail crossings. In June 2023, Gov. Mike Parson signed House Bill 4 appropriating $50 million for rail safety improvements. The improvement of safety at the 47 passive public railroad crossings on Missouri’s three passenger rail lines is the first priority of these funds. MoDOT hired consultant firms to complete independent studies on the passenger rail lines of the Southwest Chief, Missouri River Runner and Texas Eagle to make recommendations on potential improvements. The funding also allowed MoDOT to launch a program with the goal of improving advance warning signs for railroad crossings.