Missouri is known for many things but according to the National Safety Commission having safe highways is not one of them.
According to a report from the Safety Commission, Missouri was ranked 49th in the nation for having safe highways. The state also was assigned a letter grade, in which they were given an “F.”
The National Safety Commission grades were based on seat belts, alcohol-impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding among others.
Sgt. Jake Angle, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, says the patrol does the best job they can enforcing the laws within the state.
“We enforce the laws that are on the books. That’s our job, the enforcement part of it. We take that very seriously, we have a zero tolerance on seat belts and we have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving,” Angle said. “I think there is a lot of factors that roll into that, that are out of our control.”
Although Angle said there is a zero tolerance on drivers not wearing seat belts, there is no primary seat belt law in the state, making it impossible for officers to pull people over that are not dawning a seat belt.
The St. Joseph City Council has been discussing making the seat belt law a primary law but instead decided to let the public vote on whether that will become law in the city, according to City Council Member Kent O’Dell.
“We make a lot of decisions on pretty much everything else but there are some things that we as the council and a mayor feel that it should be left to the citizens to decide,” said O’Dell.
The community will get a chance to vote on the primary seat belt law in April.
Sgt. Angle believes the law should already be in place because of how beneficial it is.
“Seat belt use contributes to whether people can survive a crash or not survive a crash. We know that. Studies show that it’s just a fact,” Angle said.
The National Safety Commission gave Kansas an overall letter grade of a “B” and ranked it 19th in the nation. Unlike Missouri, Kansas does have a primary seat belt law and does not permit drivers to use their phones while driving.
Sgt. Angle said the fact that police are allowed to enforce those laws in Kansas is one factor that led to their higher ranking. He said law enforcement agencies around the nation have the same goal.
“If you look at all of the bordering states and law enforcement around the country, we’re all concerned about the same things. We’re all concerned about seat belt use; we’re all concerned about impaired driving and we’re all concerned about distracted driving,” he said, “Our concerns are to keep the highway as safe as we possibly can.”
Angle said the Highway Patrol does not plan on making large changes to their daily operations because of the commissions ranking.