Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

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

MRPC works to spread roadway safety message

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Caitlin Jones or Bonnie Prigge

Re-elects officers for another year

ST. JAMES—As of May 12, 277 individuals have died on Missouri roadways. Fourteen of those individuals have been in the Meramec Region. Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) works in conjunction with the Central District Coalition and Statewide coalitions for roadway safety to drive this number to zero, as part of the Show-Me Zero statewide effort. Caitlin Jones, MRPC Marketing and Communications Manager, spoke with the MRPC board at its May 9 meeting about the efforts MRPC takes to promote safety and work toward the Show-Me Zero goal.

MRPC works in conjunction with the Central District Coalition for Roadway Safety to promote safe driving habits, including the Buckle Up Phone Down campaign, by attending safety and health fairs, coordinating two sub-district coalition meetings for the Meramec Region, coordinating a mini-grant program for Project Graduation events and docudramas and presenting the Buckle Buddy program to regional schools and organizations for children in preschool through second grade. MRPC staff have completed 11 Buckle Buddy programs across the region, so far in fiscal year 2023-2024, reaching 307 children.

Buckle Buddy is a dragon mascot that MRPC staff take into the classroom to teach the importance of car seat and booster safety. Through a storybook and song, the Buckle Buddy program stresses the importance of being properly buckled while in the car. In Missouri, a child must be 80 pounds, four foot nine inches or eight years old before being removed from a booster seat. 

MRPC has also been awarded two grants through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct education on bicycle and pedestrian safety on a regional level and to help with docudrama planning assistance statewide. 

The bicycle and pedestrian safety program, for students pre-k through 12th, includes a bicycle course and allows students to actually utilize hand signals as well as mock lanes to practice the skills learned during a 20-minute class session. The class session goes over proper helmet fit, the hand signals for turning, safety devices on bikes and dos and don’ts of road safety. Twenty schools in the Meramec Region have benefited from MRPC’s bicycle and pedestrian safety program in fiscal year 2023-2024.

Docudrama planning assistance is meant to help schools coordinate one of four scenarios – mock car crash, ER scene, grim reaper or alcohol poisoning/drug overdose. Mag Roberts, with MRPC, works with students and teachers to outline each scenario and what area agencies will be involved. MRPC also works to help coordinate the moulage make-up that provides the realistic look to each scene. 

“The hope is that these scenes will confront students with realistic consequences to poor choices in a safe and controlled environment,” Jones said. 

Roberts and Jones have completed 12 programs statewide since the beginning of this grant on Oct. 1, 2023.

In addition to these programs, MRPC works to ensure road safety messaging is spread through signage and social media. Jones also encouraged board members to be good role models to others in their communities and families. 

“If we can save just one person, stop one teen from making a bad decision, keep one child in a booster seat longer, then we are doing our job,” Jones said. “It will take all of us making a conscious effort to get Missouri to zero roadway fatalities, but I believe we can do it.” 

In other business, the MRPC board:

  • Approved the MRPC slate of officers for FY24-25. Chair Mary Heywood, Vice-Chair Darryl Griffith, Secretary Joey Auxier and Treasurer Sean Wilson will all continue to serve in their current roles for an additional term. Other additional at-large appointments approved for another term included: Crawford County For Profit Representative Erik Lowes, Dent For Profit Representative John Smith, Gasconade County For Profit Representative Duane Kraettli, Industry Representative Jan Haviland and Transportation Representative John Casey. Bob Parsons, at-large for farming/ag-business, retired after serving nine years on the board;
  • Heard an update from MRPC Planning Manager Anne Freand on the Forward 44 project, which is the interstate improvements along 44 from the Franklin/St. Louis County line to the Oklahoma state line. She requested any specific traffic data and information on future developments such as large manufacturing facilities, large retail or housing developments along the 44 corridor in the region; and
  • Heard proposed changes to the MRPC bylaws that would change the title of the minorities at-large position to underrepresented at-large position. This proposed change will be voted on at the June 13 meeting.

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Mary Heywood, representing the unemployed, serves as chair of the board. A professional staff of 30 offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.