Imagine a world with absolutely no traffic accidents. Okay, it may not be a complete utopia, as other issues exist. But, car, truck and other forms of motor-vehicle accidents cause far too many injuries, or worse, each year. The latest statistics from the Missouri State Highway Patrol show some very encouraging signs that traffic safety may be improving. While the positive side is important, there is also an underlying thread that we still have some way to go toward finding that utopia (or partial utopia) that leaves all people safe on Missouri roads.

State officials say that fatal accidents in Missouri in 2013 fell to historically low levels. Non-fatal traffic accident data in some areas of the state is still being complied, and some agencies in the state may not have submitted final numbers.

But, authorities say that currently available data shows that 741 fatal accidents occurred on Missouri roads in 2013. That is a sharp decline from the 1,257 fatalities on Missouri roads reported just a year earlier. In Mid-Missouri, traffic fatalities dropped in the 13-county area surrounding the Columbia and Jefferson City area to 60 from the 76 that occurred in 2012. State officials say that lack of seat belt use was associated with 63 percent of the fatalities.

Notably, Missouri officials say that overall traffic wrecks have been on the decrease in the last several years. In the time period from 2005 to 2012, motor-vehicle accidents declined by 21 percent in Missouri. Final statistics on overall crashes are still being complied for 2013.

The fatal accident and overall crash statistics are on the right trend. While improved safety on the roads is an important goal, it is also vital to remember that individual accident victims are not just statistics. Each accident victim may be someone’s brother or sister, a parent or child, or other close relative of someone.

Source: Columbia Tribune, “Missouri fatal crashes at lowest level in decades,” Alan Burdziak, Jan. 3, 2014