State roads less safe than national average

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Although improved from past years, Missouri fares slightly worse than most other states in the number of traffic fatalities per miles driven.

The safety of Missouri roads is being used in advertisements by supporters of Proposition B, the transportation tax increase on the Aug. 6 ballot. They say the one-half cent sales tax and 4-cent fuel tax increase would make the state's roads safer by paying for improvements.

The state auditor estimates the taxes would raise $483 million in their first full year. Opponents of Proposition B aren't questioning whether higher taxes would make roads safer.

Instead, the No on B committee is criticizing taxes for burdening the poor and questioning the ability of the transportation department to follow through on its construction pledges.

Nationwide, an average of 1.5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled occurred in 2000, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Missouri was at 1.7 deaths, but state roads have become safer over time, even as traffic volumes have increased. Numbers collected by the Missouri State Highway Patrol show that in 1976, the state had 3.7 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

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