Four-county area sees fewer traffic deaths in '07

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The four counties in the Southeast Missourian coverage area saw 18 road-related fatalities in 2007, nine fewer than in the previous year.

According to Craig Compas of the Missouri Department of Transportation, fatalities in Cape Girardeau County fell from eight in 2006 to seven last year; in Perry County, the number fell from six to five. Scott County saw the largest drop, from 12 deaths to four. Bollinger County was the exception, where the number went from one in 2006 to two in 2007.

As of Dec. 28, Missouri saw only 958 traffic-related deaths for the year, meaning there were 299 fewer people killed on state roadways than in 2005, when fatalities reached an all-time high.

Small changes the Missouri State Highway Patrol and MoDOT have made to meet the highway patrol's goal of fewer than 1,000 annual deaths from traffic crashes statewide by 2008 may have made a difference, said Sgt. Mitch Heath, spokesman for the highway patrol's Troop E in Poplar Bluff.

For example, rumble strips on road shoulders and brighter, wider yellow center lines have been implemented.

Highway safety boils down to increasing alertness on the highways, he said.

Inattention is a major contributing cause of accidents, according to Sgt. Brad Lively of the highway patrol.

"People have been slowing down and paying attention," he said of the decrease in fatal crashes.

Still, there are several danger spots locally, Lively said.

Accidents frequently occur between Bloomfield Road and Highway 74 on Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, at the light where U.S. 61 and Highway 177 intersect and the intersection of Highway 34 and Highway 72 west of Jackson, he said.

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