JOPLIN, MO.--- The Missouri State Highway Patrol joins a nationwide effort to reduce traffic deaths by 15% this year. Duane Stavnes is traveling across state lines to return to his home outside Chicago, his priority is to stay alert.
"Noticed the Oklahoma police were out a lot through Oklahoma, so that's going to keep everyone alert just watching for the patrol cars," said Duane Stavnes, Traveling to Illinois.
Now the nationwide "Drive to Save Lives" campaign is aiming to make sure more drivers like Stavenes make it safely to their destination.
"Our goal nationwide is to reduce fatalities throughout the United States at least 15% over 2014," said Sgt. Mike Watson, Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop D.
Sgt. Mike Watson says troopers will continue their sustained efforts of enforcement and education on the importance of seat belt use and the dangers of distracted and impaired driving.
"A lot of the similar projects that we've done in the past that maybe lasted just a week or two, but we're going to continue those throughout the rest of the year," said Sgt. Watson.
So far in 2014, Missouri is experiencing a slight increase in highway deaths compared with the same time last year.
"Statewide, we're at about a 3% increase as to where we were last year. If you look specifically at Troop D, which is the 18 counties in Southwest Missouri, we're about a 36% decrease," said Sgt. Watson.
He says since 2008, Missouri has experienced a 39% decrease in traffic deaths.
"2008, over 1, 200 deaths. Last year, 758. So we're hoping to continue with the projects, continue to get the message out and hopefully those numbers will continue to decrease," said Sgt. Watson.
Watson says you can help that trend.
"The biggest thing that people can do, is wear their seat belt," said Sgt. Watson.
The "Drive to Save Lives" campaign is a united effort by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, The United States Department of Transportation, as well as state police and highway patrol leaders. In Missouri, the highway patrol has branded the campaign as "Drive to Zero Highway Deaths."
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