Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

MRPC TAC learns about seatbelt ordinance, supports gas tax, re-elects officers

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993

ST. JAMES— The city of Richland recently passed a primary seatbelt ordinance that allows its officers to ticket drivers and passengers for not wearing their seatbelts within the city limits of Richland. The city was the first in the Meramec Region to take such action. As a state, Missouri does not have a primary seatbelt law. A driver must first be stopped for another offense before a driver or passenger can be ticketed for failure to wear a seatbelt.

Scott Jones of the Missouri Department ofTransportation shared information on seatbelt usage and how cities and counties across the state are adopting primary seatbelt ordinances.

Roughly 79 percent of Missouri drivers and front seat passengers use seatbelts, and that number drops to 69 percent for teen drivers and their passengers. Seven out of every 10 Missourians killed in automobile accidents are not wearing their seatbelts.

Richland is the 45th local government to establish a local primary seatbelt ordinance and the 45th in the state, with St. Louis County being first in 2007. Roughly 22 percent of the state’s population is covered by a primary seatbelt ordinance.

Studies indicate that a state adopting a primary ordinance will initially experience an 8 percent increase in seatbelt usage. In Missouri, an 8 percent increase in usage would save 43 lives, Jones said. The average cost of a fatality in Missouri is $3.1 million, including the cost of emergency response personnel, medical care, lawsuits that typically follow a fatality accident, and othercosts.

In other business, the TAC:
· Discussed the proposed six-cent increase in the gas tax with MoDOT Assistant District Engineer Travis Koestner and learned that with the passage of Senate Bill 540, MODOT would be able to maintain all 34,000 miles of road, instead of the 8,000 now covered under the 325 plan. MoDOT would be able to continue with cost-share projects with cities and counties and would have enough revenue to continuematching federal transportation dollars. Without additional funding, MoDOT will not have enough funds to secure all federal transportation dollars in 2017. City and counties would also share in 30 percent of the new revenue for its road and bridge improvements. The TAC went on record in support of the gas tax and recommended that the MRPC board take similar action.

· Re-elected officers for the upcoming fiscal year with Crawford County Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders continuing as the TAC chair, Dent County PresidingCommissioner Darrell Skiles as vice chair and Washington County Presiding Commissioner Marvin Wright as secretary-treasurer.

· Received information on the Mark Twain National Forest Service Road Study and was encouraged to provide comment. While the study is not intended to close roads, the TAC approved a letter to be sent to the Forest Service requesting that no forest roads be closed without receiving considerable input on any road considered for closure.

· Approved MRPC proposed work program with MoDOT for submission to MRPC board for final review and approval.

Persons needing more information on MRPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee may contact MRPC at (573) 265-2993. The group will meet again at 4 p.m. June 11 at MRPC, 4 Industrial Dr., St. James. Meetings are open to the public.