Missouri total road deaths fall for the first time since 2019

JOPLIN, Mo. — The year-over-year increase in roadway fatalities has come to an end in Missouri.

According to preliminary data, there were 989 fatalities on Missouri roadways in 2023. This is a 6% decrease compared to 2022, when there were 1,057 fatalities. This is the first year since 2019 that Missouri has seen a decrease in roadway fatalities.

According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, here are the number of fatalities on Missouri roads over the last five years:

  • 2019 — 881

  • 2020 — 987

  • 2021 — 1,016

  • 2022 — 1,057

  • 2023* — 989 (*preliminary data)

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Despite the progress, this still amounts to nearly three lives lost on Missouri roadways every day. Some major characteristics observed in roadway fatalities include lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speed, and impairment, according to MoDOT:

  • 63% of vehicle occupants killed in 2023 were not wearing a seat belt.

  • Distracted driving contributed to more than 100 deaths in 2023, and historically, more than half of the victims are someone other than the distracted driver.

  • Impaired driving accounted for approximately 17% of fatalities in 2023.

  • Speed and other aggressive driving behaviors remained the top concern, contributing to more than half of the total fatalities.

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While overall roadway fatalities were down, motorcyclist fatalities have never been higher. Preliminary numbers indicate that 175 motorcyclists were killed on Missouri roadways in 2023, a 14% increase over the 153 fatalities in 2022.

This is the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities ever reported in Missouri, and almost 50% higher than the average number of motorcyclist fatalities prior to the repeal of Missouri’s all-rider helmet law in 2020. Safety professionals cite the lack of helmet use as a major contributing factor to the increase.

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