Missouri has a big problem with pedestrians being killed on its share of the Interstate Highway System, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The report, which looked at pedestrian deaths in the nation from 1993 to 2012, found that 386 pedestrians were killed on Missouri’s interstate highways during the period. That represented 23 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the state.
The only state that fared worse was Wyoming, which had 25 percent of pedestrians deaths occurring on interstate highways during that time, according to AAA.
“There were 386 pedestrians killed on Missouri’s interstates in those 10 years which is alarming,” said Mike Right, a spokesman for the auto club. Until now, he said, little research had been conducted to investigate this problem, but “we hope this report shines a light on the grave dangers associated with being a pedestrian.”
Kansas had a 14 percent rate with 67 pedestrians killed on the state’s interstate highways.
Right said it’s not clear why Missouri has such a high rate of pedestrian deaths on interstate highways. But there is a general need to raise awareness of the dangers and not only for those who intend to cross or walk along the highways. There are also “unintentional” pedestrians such as those who exit a disabled vehicle which shouldn’t be done if you can pull out of traffic.
“There are an awful lot of unintentional pedestrians out there,” he said.
Right said he has seen cars stop along an interstate highway while the occupants get out to switch drivers which is also not a good idea.
Lt. John Hotz of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said one of the biggest issues is intoxicated pedestrians. Motorists are also advised if having car problems to get the vehicle off the highway as far as possible and out of traffic and call for help while staying in the vehicle.
Law enforcement and other emergency workers often have to get out of their vehicles parked along interstates to do their jobs. But Missouri and other other states have laws requiring drivers to either switch lanes if possible when on a four- lane road or slow down when passing a emergency vehicle.
Right said moving over when possible is also a good idea even when it’s not an emergency vehicle.
The AAA study, based on information collected by the National Highway Traffic safety Administration, had other findings about nationwide pedestrian deaths on interstate highways:
▪ Sevety-four occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
▪ There are twice as many pedestrian fatalities in urban areas than rural areas.
▪ More than 80 percent of those killed are male, and about half are between 20 and 39 years old.
▪ A third of pedestrians killed were legally drunk.
▪ Just over 77 percent of pedestrian fatalities were on the road before impact and 15 percent on the shoulder.
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