If you haven't noticed it yet as you travel through the State of Missouri in August you will be encountering some of MoDOT's electronic roadside message signs.  These signs usually provide important highway information. On August 1st, a new type of safety message started to appear. The boards report the number of people who died on Missouri roads so far this year, and the percentage of those people who were unbelted.

According to Eileen Rackers, MoDOT State Traffic and Highway Safety Engineer, "After a six year decline in fatalities, we are now seeing an upward trend and we want to help motorists to be more aware of safety issues when making travel decisions."

These sign totals will be updated weekly and hopefully no new numbers will be added weekly.  According to a news release, Missouri fatalities are up 14 percent compared to this time last year. That's equivalent to 58 additional lives lost.  While no conclusion has been made to the cause of this increase, the following facts weigh heavily:

•·        During the last three years, seven out of ten vehicle occupants killed in Missouri traffic crashes were unbuckled.

•·        During the last three years, one in four Missouri traffic crashed involved a young driver (under the age of 21).

•·        Substance-impaired driving contributed to nearly 30 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities in 2011.

•·        Eighty percent of crashes involve some form of distracted driving.

If you would like more information visit modot.org/ or contact the Missouri Department of Transportation at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636). Meanwhile buckle up, drive the speed limit and put the cell phone down. Let's not add to the posted number.