2011 Winner: Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division

Peter K. ORourke Special Achievement Awards
Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division

In 2010, Missouri saw its fifth consecutive year of decreases in traffic fatalities and disabling injuries, with 821 fatalities and 6,046 serious injuries reported. Because of this progress, 57 more Missourians and visitors arrived at their destination alive, compared to 2009. The Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division led the charge toward this downward trend.

Recognizing that a cooperative effort was necessary to save lives and reduce injuries on Missouri roadways, the Traffic and Highway Safety Division launched a statewide coalition bringing together safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, engineers, EMS workers, educators, and community members. This group, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, also included smaller, regional coalitions organized around each of the ten Missouri Department of Transportation districts.

The Missouri DOT provided the Traffic and Highway Safety Division with $1,151,428 for the statewide and regional coalitions to put toward traffic safety initiatives. The Coalition was charged with setting priorities to reduce fatalities and injuries each year. Outstanding cooperation and collaboration among the Traffic and Highway Safety Division and Coalition members led to realization of the goals it set two years early.

Few things are more unwieldy than achieving consensus across a range of jurisdictions, professions and egos. Getting the partners to actually meet, discuss, rationalize and agree on specific safety efforts was a yeoman’s task. The Traffic and Highway Safety Division was able to coordinate and accomplish this feat, keeping the Coalition on track toward continuously upgrading and implementing new useful safety initiatives. Under the Traffic and Highway Safety Division’s leadership, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety helped the achieve traffic fatality levels not seen since 1950.

Together, the Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division and the Coalition have successfully combined engineering, enforcement and education to save lives. Engineers installed 640 miles of median guard cable installed. As a result, Interstate fatalities were reduced from 50 per year to fewer than 10. Other roadway improvements included brighter striping and signs, improved shoulders, rumble stripes on 5,600 centerline miles, and smoother pavements.

Law enforcement agencies held five mobilizations in 2010, targeting occupant protection, new speed enforcement initiatives, and newly designed work zone enforcement. Agencies also made a concerted effort to work cooperatively with state, county, and municipal departments. Education initiatives included “Battle of the Belt” competitions involving more than 100 Missouri high schools.

The Coalition has also fostered new local partnerships. For example, the Sedalia Police Department and Pettis County Sheriffs’ Department came together to implement cooperative county/city sobriety checkpoints to help reduce the inordinate amount of drunk driving fatalities in that county. They now send representatives to the regional coalition meetings to share safety ideas and concerns.

Missouri citizens are excited to hear that the state is at or below 1950 fatality levels. Coalition and citizen partners are optimistic about the differences they can make both individually and collectively. The Traffic and Highway Safety Division deserves the credit for leading the coalition partners throughout the regions toward this fifth straight year of declines in fatalities and disabling injuries on Missouri roads.