JEFFERSON CITY – Six people died in traffic crashes over the Christmas holiday weekend in Missouri. The state tallied those accidents this year from Friday evening at 6 p.m. through Monday night at 11:59 p.m.
Four of the six people killed were not wearing seat belts, while two of them were ejected. Lieutenant Paul Reinsch with the state Highway Patrol says the results are predictable.
“The most important job the seat belt has is to keep you in that seat, and in that car” said Reinch. “If we can do that, that car is going help protect you in that crash. A lot of times you’re ejected and the car rolls over on top of you, leading to not only fatality injuries but very serious injuries.”
In a departure from the statistical trend, in one of the fatality crashes this Christmas period, a passenger who was wearing a seat belt died while the belt-less driver sustained moderate injuries.
The number of traffic fatalities over the period increased by one from last year. The highway patrol investigated a total of 260 crashes which resulted in 86 injuries, an increase of eight from 2015. The patrol investigated 282 crashed last year, including 78 which involved injuries.
Reinsch says fatality accidents don’t necessary occur on the busiest roads. “Obviously the U.S. Highways and the Interstate Highways have the most amount of traffic, the most amount of cars and trucks out there. Unfortunately, we see a lot of our fatality crashes on two lane rural roads.”
Two of this year’s Christmas period deaths occurred in a single two car crash on a farm road north of Springfield. All but one took place on a two lane road.
All the fatalities happened in jurisdictions patrolled by four state Highway Patrol Troops, which are based in Springfield, Polar Bluff, Macon and Willow Springs. The Springfield Troop handled three of the deaths.
Reinsch says each Troop is aware of trouble spots for accidents within its coverage area. “They work those roads and those particular intersections, those particular areas as much as they can so that (they can) try to reduce the number of crashes and reduce the number of serious injuries.” There were no fatalities investigated by the Highway patrol in St. Louis or Kansas City over the Christmas period.
Troopers arrested 68 people for driving while impaired over the Christmas holiday, an increase of 21 from last year. They also made 40 drug arrests this year. There was one boating death last year while there were none in 2016.
Weather played a major role during the 2015 holiday when 11 people drowned when their vehicles were swept away by floodwaters.