Car accidents are an unfortunate part of life, and millions occur on US roadways each year, leading to injuries and sometimes fatalities. Here in Kansas and Missouri, highway deaths are on the increase.
Missouri accident statistics
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 35,766 fatal collisions occurred in the US in 2020, resulting in 38,824 deaths. With a population of over six million and several densely populated cities, including St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia, Missouri is no stranger to car accidents. The IIHS found that:
- 914 fatal crashes happened in Missouri in 2020, resulting in 987 deaths.
- Forty percent of those killed were travelling in passenger cars, 29 percent were pickup and SUV occupants, and 123 were riding on motorcycles.
- Of the 535 Missouri drivers killed in fatal accidents in 2020, 359 had known BAC results.
Unfortunately, this increase in traffic fatalities continued the following year. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) found that more than 1,015 were killed in car accidents in 2021, a two percent increase over 2020. That number rose to 1,045 in 2022, about a three percent increase. (A total of 181 of them were in the Kansas City region alone.) This marked the third straight year of rising fatalities after almost a decade of steady decline.
What are the leading causes of fatalities in Missouri?
According to data from the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, 65% of the fatal crashes occurring in the city in 2021 involved drivers who were not wearing safety restraints. The majority of them were men (296 out of 416 total unbelted fatalities – almost 3/4 of all victims), and most victims were between 20 and 29 (98 fatalities).
Per data from the Coalition, the other leading causes of fatal accidents in 2021 were:
Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving led to 548 fatalities. Almost 71% of those aggressive drivers were men (389) and most were between the ages of 20 and 29 (128 drivers, or 23%).
Impaired driving: There were 215 fatalities involving a driver who was impaired by some kind of substance. April and May saw the greatest number of fatalities (26 people each month). Most of the impaired drivers were men (163, or 72%), and most were between the ages of 20 and 29.
Distracted driving: There were 71 fatal accidents involving a distracted driver. The majority were male (83%) and the greatest number of deaths occurred in May (11 total fatalities, or 15%). Once again, most involved drivers between the ages of 20 and 29 (21 total, or just under 30%).
Kansas accident statistics
Although 2017 was one of the deadliest in terms of traffic fatalities for Kansas in recent years, 2020 and 2021 followed national trends with significant increases. Of the 382 fatal accidents that occurred in the state in 2020, 426 deaths were recorded. According to IIHS statistics:
- 138 of the 426 people killed on Kansas roadways were riding in passenger vehicles, 139 were the occupants of pickups and SUVs (The Ford F-150 was the most popular vehicle in Kansas, according to one 2022 report), 12 were riding in large trucks, and 65 (nearly 10% of all those killed) were traveling via motorcycle.
- Kansas had an equal percentage of deaths (50 percent) involving single-vehicle and multiple-vehicle crashes, but more fatalities occurred in rural areas.
- Alcohol played a part in 30 percent of the drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2020.
According to KSNT.com, the 2021 crash statistics from KDOT revealed that there were 381 fatal crashes that led to 424 deaths. In addition, there were 12,871 crashes resulting in 17,476 injuries and in 2022, traffic deaths were up around 10 percent.
The primary cause of car crashes in the state during the last decade has been inattention while driving. Other leading causes of crashes include following too closely, speeding, striking an animal or other obstacle on the roadway, failure to yield the right-of-way, and overdriving the road conditions. Many fatal crashes also involve the failure to wear a seatbelt, prompting the state to constantly reinforce safe driving basics.
Understanding the leading causes of fatal car accidents in Missouri and Kansas
- Drunk or impaired driving. Drunk driving is responsible for more fatal motor vehicle accidents in the US than any other cause. In Kansas and Missouri, a driver under 21 with a BAC of 0.02, someone 21 or older with a BAC of 0.08, and a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04 can be arrested for DUI. In addition, under Kansas DUI laws you cannot plea bargain a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol. In both Missouri and Kansas, police officers may require that a driver take a breathalyzer or blood test to determine BAC, and refusal to do so can lead to driver’s license revocation and other consequences.
- Distracted driving. Using a cellphone, adjusting the GPS or radio, eating or drinking while driving, tending to the needs of children in the backseat, and conversing with passengers are all familiar forms of driver distraction that negatively affect reaction time and a driver’s ability to concentrate. Because road hazards can appear suddenly, even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to read a text or take a bite from a sandwich can be the difference between an evasive maneuver and a deadly collision.
- Driver errors. Many drivers, particularly impatient or inexperienced ones, make a variety of errors that put themselves and other motorists in danger. They may routinely drive faster than the posted speed limit, or fail to adjust their speed in adverse weather or road conditions. Some follow too closely, failing to leave enough space from the car in front of them to avoid a rear-end collision should that vehicle come to an abrupt stop, and others engage in aggressive types of driving like tailgating, a form of road rage.
Did you or someone you love sustain devastating injuries in a car accident? At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, personal injury is the only kind of law we practice, and we’ve helped injured motorists recover millions of dollars to compensate them for accident-related injuries. If you’re looking for an experienced, compassionate personal injury attorney, call our offices or submit a contact form to schedule a free initial consultation today.
Kansas City personal injury attorney James Roswold of Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys handles cases dealing with victims of personal injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, workers compensation, nursing home negligence, premises liability, product liability, car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases.