June 26, 2012
ST. JAMES—The Meramec Region Coalition for Roadway Safety Subcommittee focused its attention on ways to encourage teenagers to practice safe driving habits at its meeting June 19 at Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC).
Mariah Vernon of Steelville High School explained how she would like to become involved in saving young lives. Vernon was involved in a vehicle accident, and then, a few weeks later, had a close friend killed in an accident.
“It was really hard for me – that one second can ruin everything, and it really does,” Vernon said regarding her friend’s death. “I want to stress to teenagers that safety and seatbelts are important…I didn’t think it would happen to me.”
Vernon, and her friend, Cierra Donal, helped committee members understand what messages might have the most impact with teenagers.
Next, the coalition reviewed recent roadway fatality data. A total of 373 persons have lost their lives on Missouri roadways for 2012 as of June 23, according to data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Last year, 313 fatalities occurred within the same time frame. This is a 19 percent increase for 2012.
The Meramec Region counties have a total of 23 fatalities as of June 23, 2012. This is a 21 percent increase compared to 19 fatalities in 2011 within the same time frame.
Members reviewed maps with dots correlating to the locations of fatal crashes within the region from 2009 to 2011 as well as vehicle crashes for unbelted teenagers from 2008 to 2010. Data included fatality statistics regarding motorcycles, age groups, safety devices, pedestrians, and drinking.
Staff also reported on the past year’s activities and discussed an action plan to continue the group’s mission of increasing roadway safety throughout the region.
Action items included building the subcommittee’s membership, outreach and awareness efforts for local events, promoting Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) Battle of the Belt in regional high schools, coordinating a docudrama and Project Graduation mini grant program, continuing the Buckle Buddy presentation program within elementary schools and initiating an informational advertising campaign.
MoDOT’s Dianna Johnson, education and outreach/Adopt-A-Highway, and Trent Brooks, Central District traffic engineer, noted they would like to see the subcommittee become more involved in activities such as drivers’ education classes, delivering the Arrive Alive message at local sports games, the Battle of the Belt program and local school docudramas.
Johnson and Brooks also requested assistance in developing a Central District coalition display to be featured at the annual Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety Conference in October.
Mariah Vernon, left, and Cierra Donal of Steelville brainstorm with committee members on different ways to promote roadway safety to teenagers. Vernon noted the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Seatbelt Convincer makes teens think twice about not wearing their seatbelts as they experience the force of a crash during the simulation.
Editor’s Note: Graphic displaying 2012 year-to-date regional roadway fatality data is attached if desired for publication.