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Missouri highway deaths continue to drop

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The Missouri Department of Transportation says the number of fatal accidents in the state dropped 10 percent this year. The numbers are not official yet, but it would mark the fourth straight yearly decline in fatalities.

MoDOT spokeswoman Sally Oxenhandler said a 2004 constitutional amendment that directed more money to road construction has helped improve safety, but she says Missouri still needs a tougher seatbelt law.

"The one thing that we have pushed for for years is a primary safety belt law," Oxenhandler said. "And we believe that if we had that in place, we would see an even further reduction in traffic fatalities to the tune of about 90 people a year."

A primary enforcement seatbelt law would allow police to pull over drivers simply for not wearing their seatbelt, and would enable Missouri to access an additional $20 million in federal funding.

MoDOT's director, Pete Rahn faced criticism earlier this year for directing state
employees to lobby for the bill.

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