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Today, on the fourth annual Buckle Up Phone Down Day, we learn more drivers are heeding the message, but one segment of Missourians is lagging behind: male drivers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reports most of the state's traffic fatalities are men. The agency said this deadly statistic can be attributed to a lack of seat belt use, particularly among young male pickup drivers.

Preliminary 2020 data shows that male drivers account for 77 percent of the pickup truck fatalities so far this year 83 percent of those male pickup truck drivers killed were unbuckled.

That's a staggering statistic that needs to change. MoDOT and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety have stepped up efforts to reach male drivers, particularly ones who drive pickups.

Mayor Carrie Tergin also has been a huge proponent of the BUPD campaign, helping to spread the word about how simply wearing your seat belt and keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road — not your phone — could save your life.

Already this year, there have been 717 traffic fatalities — that's 76 more lives lost compared to the same time last year, according to a MoDOT news release. Unfortunately, 68 percent of those were unbuckled. If everyone involved in these crashes had been buckled, more than 180 people who were killed might still be alive today.

A new video encourages pickup truck drivers to buckle up — youtu.be/obmulMOYK6g.

Also, the Jefferson City Police Department is participating with other law enforcement agencies throughout Missouri in the statewide effort.

JCPD said studies have found more people are likely to buckle up and stop driving distracted if a friend or passenger encourages them to do so.

We encourage you to hold your friends and family accountable. Take the challenge at www.buckleupphonedown.com and encourage them to do the same. Then put your words into action.

News Tribune

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