The Missouri Highway Patrol and the Illinois State Police are urging drivers to slow down, buckle up and eliminate possible distractions in their cars as they return home from the Memorial Day weekend.
"Inattentive driving is a big problem. We see not only texting on cell phones; we also see reading books and newspapers, putting on makeup, eating full meals in cars," said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 16 percent of all fatal accidents in 2009 were the result of distracted driving, and that number continues to rise.
University of Missouri nursing professor Lori Popejoy's son Adam was one of those victims. He was killed in a 2002 accident when he didn't pay attention behind the wheel.
"Distraction can exact a high toll," Popejoy said. "Sometimes it is your life but sometimes it is your ability to think, or move, or live a life without daily physical pain. And we can all do better by our children. We can teach them to slow down, embrace the moment and pay attention to the details that may save their lives or the lives of others,"
Capt. Johnson, with the Missouri Highway Patrol, says all available troopers will be out on the roads this weekend, patrolling at 20-mile intervals along interstates 70, 44 and 55 between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.