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Inattention, speeding cause most traffic deaths

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nevada Daily Mail

Motorists' inattention, followed closely by speeding and impairment stemming from the use of alcohol or narcotics, have been the principal causes of 380 traffic fatalities during the past three years and 28 days in the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop D Region, including Vernon County.

MSHP Sgt. Mike Watson of Carthage said Monday that boating accidents and drownings have also been a major concern, totaling 36 since Jan. 1, 2010. "It is encouraging for us anytime someone gets to go home from out on the road or the water," Watson said in a phone interview.

"The leading cause of all accidents is inattention whether it's due to a passenger, tobacco use, eating, reading or an electronic factor like a cell phone, radio or GPS. All those factors fall under the umbrella of inattention.

"The No. 1 cause of fatal crashes in Missouri is driving too fast, exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions. The second leading cause of fatal accidents is driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs."

Asked why some people recklessly speed on ice and snow and on rain-slickened highways, Watson said, "You could ask 10 accident victims and get 10 different answers for why they didn't slow down.

"They may have felt like their ability was OK or that they felt comfortable that they could drive in those kinds of conditions. They felt overly confident."

Noting that Springfield-based Troop D troopers in 18 Southwest Missouri counties investigated a third fewer fatal crashes last year and in 2011 than they had in 2010, Watson said there were 135 traffic-related deaths in each of the past two years and 155 in 2010. He said the troopers worked half as many boating fatalities and a third fewer drownings last year than they had the previous year.

There were four boating-related deaths in the area last year, compared to eight in 2011 and five in 2010, according to statistics reported on the MSHP Web site. Six people drowned in 2012, nine in 2011 and four in 2010 in area rivers and on such popular bodies of water as lakes Stockton, Taneycomo and Table Rock.

There had been five traffic fatalities and no boating deaths or drownings reported by the MSHP's Carthage headquarters Monday afternoon for the first month of 2013.

Led by Capt. Juan Villanueva, Troop D's 149 troopers enforce traffic laws and investigate accidents in Barry, Barton, Cedar, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Polk, St. Clair, Stone, Taney, Vernon and Webster counties.

There are also 94 uniformed civilians and 27 civilian employees at the Springfield HQ and at the patrol's Carthage Service Center, which serves the western counties of the region.



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