Our Opinion: Highway fatalities drop — again

Missouri motorists are demonstrating their attention to safety.

Traffic fatalities dropped to 773 last year, the sixth consecutive yearly decline, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

The total marked a 6 percent decrease from the 821 fatalities in 2010.

In addition, the number denotes a steady decrease from the 1,257 fatalities in 2005 and the lowest total since the late 1940s.

No single factor accounts for the decrease.

Rather, the decline can be attributed to a range of components, including:

• Improved highway safety measures, including reflective signs, rumble strips separating roadways from shoulders, and cross-over barriers in medians.

• Improved vehicle safety, including air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability controls.

• Greater enforcement by law enforcement personnel, including DWI checkpoints.

• Advances in roadside medical care provided by first responders and emergency medical technicians.

• And, certainly not to be overlooked, motorists who take their responsibilities seriously and exercise caution.

“We applaud Missouri drivers who pay attention, drive defensively and take care to travel safely,” said Leanna Depue, MoDOT’s highway safety director. “They share credit for this drop in fatalities with a number of hard-working law enforcement professionals and emergency services personnel, those who focus on highway and vehicle safety improvements and messengers who help people adopt safer behaviors. These dedicated folks help more people arrive alive.”

We urge all Missouri drivers to play their part in continuing the downward trend in traffic fatalities.

Every motorist has a responsibility to obey the rules of the road and the dictates of common sense.

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