(Missourinet)– While passenger traffic in Missouri has plummeted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Missouri state troopers say there’s been a three percent increase in traffic fatalities for the year.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain John Hotz says passenger traffic is down 47 percent statewide since March 13. Captain Hotz and the state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) say passenger traffic in both the Kansas City and St. Louis areas is down 49 percent in the past month.

Click below to see the Highway Patrol report.

Traffic Changes due to COVID-19

“It is alarming when you see the significant reduction in traffic and yet we’re still having the same number of fatal crashes, or even a little bit more than what had we had last year,” Hotz says.

There have been 174 traffic fatalities statewide in 2020, compared to 168 at this time last year.

You’ll notice additional Missouri state troopers on the road, increasing enforcement to stop the rising number of traffic fatalities. Hotz says motorists driving 90-miles-per-hour is “unfortunately becoming commonplace.”

“Now we (the Highway Patrol) are practicing social distancing just like everyone else, but in the end we have a job to do,” says Hotz. “And if we have people that are out there endangering themselves or others, we’re going to take enforcement action on that.”

And he warns motorists that increasing speeds increases the likelihood of serious injuries or death.

“We know the faster that you’re going when you have a traffic crash, the more severe that crash is going to be. There’s just no way around it, we can’t cheat the laws of physics,” Hotz says.

Captain Hotz tells Missourinet that three MoDOT trucks have been struck by motorists in the past week, despite the falling traffic volumes.

There were 879 traffic fatalities in Missouri in 2019.

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