KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal agency wants your next trip to be safer than your last, whether it's in a car, train, plane or boat.
This month, the National Transportation Safety Board released its Top Ten Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements . The agency releases the list every two years.
The improvements range from suggesting stricter laws on texting and driving to encouraging manufacturers to make collision avoidance systems a standard feature in new cars.
Agencies around Kansas City have worked for years implementing some of the same recommendations. The Mid-America Regional Council launched "Destination Safe" in 2004. The initiative is a collaboration of agencies focusing on enforcement and education to improve drivers' habits around Kansas City.
"If we saved one life through an education or enforcement contact, we've done our jobs," said Sergeant Collin Stosberg with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. But he stressed too many people continue to die in traffic crashes, the majority of which are preventable.
In Kansas, 461 people died in traffic crashes in 2017 compared to 429 traffic-related deaths in 2016.
Missouri was one of the few Midwestern states which saw a decrease in traffic deaths from 2016 to 2017: 947 in 2016 and 923 in 2017.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Collin Stosberg said roughly 62 percent of people who die in car crashes in Missouri were not wearing their seatbelt. He said studies show wearing a seatbelt increases a person's chance of surviving a a crash by 50 percent.
So in 2017, roughly 572 people were not wearing a seatbelt when they died. Had they all been wearing a seatbelt, statistics show 286 of them would have survived.
The NTSB report calls on states to make not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense. In Missouri, it is a secondary offense. In Kansas, it is a primary law.
Stosberg said agencies like his receive grants through Destination Safe to pay the overtime costs of doing special saturation patrols targeting drunk drivers or speeders.
"Just by visibility alone, when you see a trooper or police officer out, people's driving behavior gets better," he said.
Ken Baylis agreed. He said he drives roughly 1,000 miles every week for work. When he got an expensive ticket in California, he changed his habits for the better.
"I got a $250 fine for talking on my cellphone in a residential zone where there was no one around. So believe me, that made me learn not to do it again," he said.
The full list of the NTSB's Most Wanted Improvements includes:
- Eliminate distractions
- Reduce fatigue-related accidents
- Improve the safety of Part 135 aircraft flight operations
- Fully implement positive train control
- End alcohol and other drug impairment
- Increase implementation of collision avoidance systems in all new highway vehicles
- Implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce speeding-related crashes
- Require medical fitness, screen for and treat obstructive sleep apnea
- Stregthen occupant protection
- Ensure the safe shipment of hazardous materials