Safety coalition looks to prevent distracted driving

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The Northeast Coalition for Roadway Safety wants drivers to do something simple to save lives.

"We have initiated a campaign called Buckle Up, Phone Down, and it is what it is," said Northeast District Communications Manager Marisa Ellison. "We are encouraging folks to always put their phone down when they're driving."

At the organization's quarterly meeting Thursday morning, multiple agencies, including MoDOT, focused on a renewed push to end distracted driving and focus on safer behavior -- around highway intersections especially.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes in the United States and in Missouri, and failing to wear a seat belt continues to make crashes go from bad to fatal. Last year, of the 689 deaths on Missouri's highways, 63 percent weren't wearing a seat belt. The Show-Me-State currently has no primary seat belt law, meaning that police cannot pull over drivers for not wearing one, although officers can cite drivers if the traffic stop is initiated for another reason. The Coalition estimates Missouri is 41st in the nation in seat belt use.

And a particular focus on intersections comes after dozens of fatalities occurred at non-signaled crossings, like the one at the intersection of Highway 11 and Highway 63 in Kirksville -- more crashes occurred at that intersection in 2016 than in the previous two years combined.

You can learn more about the Coalition for Roadway Safety and its initiatives at

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