The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported eight fatalities during the New Year’s holiday counting period, an increase from the six fatalities reported during last year’s holiday.
According to a Jan. 2 news release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, state troopers investigated 486 highway traffic crashes over the 102-hour time span from 6 p.m. Dec. 28, 2012, to 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1, 2013.
In the same time frame, troopers also made 124 arrests for driving while intoxicated, an increase from last year’s mark of 90 arrests.
This year’s traffic crash count almost triples the 163 investigated highway traffic crashes that occurred during last year’s counting period. In addition to this year’s crashes, troopers investigated 147 injuries — almost double last year’s 75 reported injuries.
Captain Tim Hull, director of the Public Information and Education division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said two factors contributed to the increased number of crashes.
“Poor weather conditions would be one (reason) because we had one day there where we had quite a snowstorm,” Hull said. “The second one is the counting period this year was one day longer than it was last year.”
The reported count of 486 traffic crashes includes those investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and does not include all crashes that occurred statewide over the counting period. Hull said 777 traffic crashes occurred statewide during last year’s counting period, but the patrol does not yet know the total number of crashes that occurred statewide during this year’s counting period.
“We have to wait for some other agencies to send those reports in to us,” Hull said. “It’s going to take a little while for them to turn those reports in and for us to get those totals together.”
Of the eight reported fatalities, state troopers investigated seven, and the Lee’s Summit Police Department investigated one. According to the news release, the victims ranged in age from 3 to 60 years old. At least three of the eight people killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The report details of one of the fatalities is still pending.
Hull said while a seat belt cannot guarantee survival among all types of collisions, it will increase overall chances of survival.
“Over 60 percent of the people that were killed this year in traffic crashes in Missouri were not wearing a seat belt,” Hull said. “If you look at the averages, your chances of surviving a crash with your seat belt on are much higher than they are when you’re not wearing a seat belt.”