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Missouri Department of Transportation

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MoDOT News Release 

For more information contact Jeff Briggs at (573) 751-5985

February 07, 2007 12:00 AM
MoDOT Director Calls For Tougher Safety Belt Law In Annual State Of Transportation Address
"Save 90 Lives A Year," Rahn Urges Legislators

JEFFERSON CITY - In his annual State of Transportation Address, Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn called on legislators to pass a primary safety belt law. 

"It is time to act," Rahn said.  "We spend billions of dollars making our highways safer.  Without spending a dime, we could save 90 lives each year.  It is imperative that we make 2007 the year we (pass) a primary safety belt law and save those 90 lives."

Current law allows safety belt ticketing only if first pulled over for another offense.  Federal estimates show that passing a tougher law would save 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 disabling injuries annually.

MoDOT has taken other steps to improve traveler safety, Rahn said, including the just-completed Smooth Roads Initiative, which improved Missouri's 2,200 most heavily traveled highway miles.  "Our busiest roads are smoother," Rahn said.  "Seventy-four percent of Missouri's major highways are now in good condition and drivers are feeling the difference.

"Our most traveled highways are safer.  We have installed brighter, wider stripes; larger, easier-to-read signs; emergency reference markers; rumble stripes and median guard cables.  As a result, 173 fewer people lost their lives in 2006.

"According to USA Today, this 14 percent drop is the third largest decrease in traffic fatalities among all states and the District of Columbia.  Now, that is a ranking of which we can all be proud."

Rahn also noted a nationwide survey of truckers that ranked Interstates 44 and 70 in Missouri as the second and third most improved highways in the country. 

"This is progress, but not victory," he said.  " Just last month, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved the Better Roads, Brighter Future Program.  If you thought the Smooth Roads Initiative was impressive, just wait until you experience this.  Better Roads, Brighter Future is the Smooth Roads Initiative on steroids.  This groundbreaking program will result in 5,600 miles of our busiest highways being smoother and safer by 2012."

Rahn also touted MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Plan, which will improve more than 800 better bridges by 2012. 

"Each of these bridges will be replaced or repaired, and the successful bidder will be required to keep them in good condition for at least 25 years," he said.  "If their solutions don't perform, we don't pay.  That is the ultimate protection of Missouri taxpayers for an extreme makeover of Missouri's bridges."

Although improved, Rahn said Interstates 44 and 70 need quick attention.  "By 2012 -- just five years from today -- there will be nearly 800,000 more large trucks annually on I-44 and greater than 700,000 more large trucks on I-70.  This vital commercial traffic will only increase beyond 2012 and will be even higher in urban areas.

"We cannot ignore this growing traffic and I am convinced that we must include dedicated truck lanes as part of our solution to separate semis from family sedans on our two most critical roadways -- I-70 and I-44."

 

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