According to the Missouri highway Patrol there is reason to worry for anyone using state roads to get around. The number of fatal highway crashes is on the rise. That means that your risk of having a fatal crash, or any type of collision is increased and that police enforcement of all traffic laws will also increase.

All states have seen their share of fatal highway collisions fluctuate during the past few years. Some have risen dramatically while others have declined significantly. The causes for fatal collisions vary widely depending on driving conditions state laws and enforcement levels. Despite the fluctuations in traffic fatalities, traffic safety experts say there is little reason beyond human error for any fatal accidents to occur at all.

“After a six year decline in fatalities, we are now seeing an upward trend,” Eileen Rackers, MoDOT State Traffic and Highway Safety Engineer said in a press release.

So far this year, fatalities on Missouri highways are up 14 percent from last year. And locally, Missouri highway fatalities are up 75 percent from last year in Pulaski, Crawford, Dent, Laclede, Maries, and Phelps counties.

The Missouri Highway Patrol has determined that the majority of these fatal collisions have been caused by lack of seat belts (people are still refusing to wear seat belts?!) and distracted driving. To counter this increase Missouri has begun installing special electronic highway signs with the current number of highway fatalities for the state. It is hoped that this subtle reminder will be enough to convince drivers to slow down and pay attention to the road ahead of them instead of on their handheld device, radio or the person in the back seat (all common driving distractions.)

In the meantime the Missouri Highway Patrol will also be stepping up enforcement of existing driving laws in an effort to save drivers from their worst enemy: themselves.