Missouri’s traffic safety laws are severely lacking, group says

A recent report says that Missouri has fewer “essential” traffic safety laws than almost any other state.

A recent report by traffic safety group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says Missouri is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to enacting traffic safety laws that the group considers essential. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Missouri has only four of the 16 laws the group recommends. Only two other states in the country have fewer such laws on their books. The group says that passing such laws are essential to combating the rising number of fatal motor vehicle accidents, especially due to distracted driving, drunk driving, and lack of seatbelt usage.

Missouri traffic laws falling behind

As stated above, Missouri has just four of the 16 laws the safety group considers essential. Arizona and Montana also have just four of the recommended laws on their books, while just Wyoming (with three laws) and South Dakota (with two laws) rank lower than Missouri.

Among the laws that Missouri lacks are a primary enforcement seatbelt law for all vehicle occupants. While not wearing a seatbelt is currently illegal in Missouri, police can't pull people over for not wearing a seatbelt unless they also witness them committing another offense at the same time.

Missouri also lacks an all-ages texting and driving ban. Currently, Missouri law only prohibits texting and driving by drivers who are 21 or younger. Missouri is also one of the only states that allows open bottles of alcohol in passenger areas of vehicles. Furthermore, Missouri also lacks any measure requiring children younger than two to be restrained by a rear-facing seat, something the group considers essential given infants' increased risk of injury or death in accidents.

Rising traffic fatality toll

While Missouri certainly ranked near the bottom of the pack when it came to traffic safety regulations, no state had enacted all of the 16 laws the report recommends. Rhode Island came the closest, with 13 of the recommended laws on its books. As CityLab reports, only six states were ranked as having "significantly advanced" towards adopting most of the group's recommended laws.

Enacting such laws is considered important given the rising death toll on U.S. roads and highways. In 2016, for example, nationwide traffic deaths increased by 5.6 percent. Certain driving behaviors are especially dangerous. Approximately half of all those killed in traffic accidents in the past five years weren't wearing a seatbelt, for example, while fatalities due to drunk driving are increasing. These are problems that tougher laws could help fight against, the group contends.

Getting help after a wreck

Being hurt in an accident is an ordeal in more than one way. Not only do accident victims have to deal with the physical and emotional pain of a crash, but they often have to contend with rising medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost income. A personal injury attorney can help. With an attorney on their side, accident victims will have somebody fighting for them for the compensation they may ultimately be entitled to.