Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a lower volume of traffic, preliminary reports show that traffic deaths in Missouri actually increased by 12 percent from 2019 to 2020 and continued to rise throughout 2021. In fact, 2020 reflected Missouri’s highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007.
Though there have been fewer people driving on Missouri highways, more motorists are driving at higher speeds and engaging in unsafe behavior than ever before – resulting in deadlier crashes.
At Goldblatt + Singer, we recognize that many of these fatal crashes can be prevented through safer driving habits and increased awareness.
We worked with data visualization agency, 1Point21 Interactive to identify areas where motorists may be at higher risk of being involved in a fatal crash.
For this study, we examined all fatal crashes that occurred on either primary or secondary roads during the period of 2000-2019. (Primary roads are limited-access highways within the interstate highway system. Secondary roads are main arteries, usually in the U.S. highway, state highway, or county highway system.)
There are approximately 23,000 miles of primary and secondary roads in Missouri. During the two-decade study period, 12,976 fatal crashes (80 percent) took place on Missouri primary and secondary roads.
While the bulk of our analysis centered on finding the deadliest sections of road in the entire state, we also identified the deadliest single mile of highway – a stretch of I-55 just south of Downtown in St. Louis.
More fatal crashes have occurred here (16) than any other mile of highway in the state. Between 2000-2019, 17 people lost their lives on this one-mile stretch alone.
As you may have expected, nine of the ten worst five-mile stretches of road in Missouri are located in the two most populated cities: Kansas City and St. Louis. Just a mile up the road from the deadliest mile is the worst five-mile stretch in Missouri. This section of I-44, between exits 288-292A, saw 37 fatal crashes and 44 deaths during the time period.
Seven of the ten deadliest stretches were found in Kansas City and two in St. Louis, while just one was found in a rural area – a section of US-54 outside of Jefferson City.
We plotted our findings on this interactive map. Found here are both the ten deadliest road stretches in the state (in red) as well as the deadliest stretch (in blue). Click and drag to move the focus of the map and use the mouse wheel or pinch to zoom in and out. If viewing on a mobile device, rotate for the best viewing experience.
|Rank||Road||Start/End Exits||Closest City||Crashes||Deaths|
|3||US-71||Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd-Hickman Mills Dr||KC||35||38|
|5||US-24||Prospect Av-S Brookside Ave||KC||32||35|
|9||US-54||Cody Dr-Honey Creek Dr||Jefferson City||24||29|
While most of the top ten are found in Kansas City and Missouri, we wanted to provide an analysis that can benefit all motorists in Missouri. To accomplish this, we also found the deadliest stretch in each of the eleven major regions throughout the state.
|Region||Road||Start/End Exit||Closest City||Crashes||Deaths|
|Bootheel||US-160||County Rd 488 -County Rd 323||Poplar Bluff||14||18|
|Central||US-50||NW 1421st Rd – NW 375th Rd||Lake Lafayette||7||9|
|MidMissouri||US-54||Cody Dr-Honey Creek Dr||Jefferson City||24||29|
|Northeast||US-61||Junct US-25 – Junct SR-68||Palmyra||11||12|
|Northwest||I-29||Exit 35 – Mile Point 41||St. Joseph||11||12|
|South Central||SR-47||Schuchart Rd-Vondera Ave||Union||16||22|
|Southeast||US-67||SR-47 – Beginnings Road||Bonne Terre||16||20|
|Southern||SR-5||N Washington Ave – Orchard Dr||Lebanon||11||15|
|St Louis||I-44||288-292A||St. Louis||37||40|
No matter the time of year, the importance of safe driving practices cannot be emphasized enough. Take personal responsibility for your safety by wearing a seat belt, driving at the speed limit, and driving without unnecessary distractions or impairment. Do your part as a responsible driver to keep the road safe.
Make sure to check www.kandrive.org for any delays or any ongoing construction on your route. Read Missouri’s new highway safety plan Show-Me Zero, Driving Missouri Toward Safer Roads for more strategies.
This study is based on 2000-2019 fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We isolated and examined all crashes that occurred on both primary and secondary roads in Missouri.
If you would like to report or republish our findings, please link to this page to provide a citation for our work.