A year after Missouri relaxed a half-century-old helmet law for motorcycle riders, the number of fatalities involving helmet-less riders has drastically increased.
The Columbia Missourian recently reported that as of July 8, the Missouri Department of Transportation reported a 33 percent increase in motorcyclist fatalities after the law changed. The number of "un-helmeted" riders killed in crashes increased from two in the first six months of 2020 to 31 at that point in 2021.
As of Sept. 8, there were 104 motorcyclist fatalities this year. Fifty-four of those riders were not wearing helmets.
On a related note, Gov. Mike Parson has proclaimed Friday as Buckle Up Phone Down Day in Missouri.
We'd like to use the day to not only remind motorists to wear their seat belts but for motorcyclists to use their heads - wear your helmet.
Campaigns, along with secondary enforcement of seat belt use has done wonders to increase seat belt usage and save lives.
Missouri's 2021 Seat Belt Usage Survey showed 88 percent of vehicle occupants use a seat belt, matching the highest rate the state has ever recorded. We've come a long way from the days of riding cross country in the back of our parents' wood-paneled station wagons without seat belts.
But more can be done. The unbuckled 12 percent make up a majority of the state's roadway fatalities, which spiked in 2020 despite a decrease in traffic volume, MoDOT recently reported. More than two-thirds of the drivers and passengers killed in traffic crashes last year were not wearing a seat belt.
We urge you to accept the BUPD challenge at modot.org/bupd and spread the word on social media using the hashtags #BUPD and #BUPDDay. Then follow through by buckling your belts, don't be distracted by your phone or other device and, if you're riding a motorcycle, wear your helmet.