Missouri’s Buckle Up Phone Down Safety Initiative Gaining National Attention, Momentum

New Starter Kit and Video Explain Program History, How to Participate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Transportation’s Buckle Up Phone Down safety initiative is being recognized nationally for its success in saving lives on Missouri highways, with other states joining the cause and adopting the safety program as their own.

The National Association of Development Organizations, also known as NADO, yesterday gave the Buckle Up Phone Down endeavor an Excellence in Regional Transportation Award, which recognizes noteworthy projects and practices that help meet regional needs through various program areas, including safety.

Krishna Kunapareddy, a planner with the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, nominated the BUPD effort for the NADO award, stating: “Missouri’s Buckle Up Phone Down Program is helping to save lives at the local level by raising awareness for the dangers associated with distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt. This two-part message has been well received throughout the state and is now gaining attention at the national level as a viable, life-saving strategy.”

In addition, the Toward Zero Deaths consortium selected the Show Me State’s BUPD program as a model case study in improving the state’s safety culture and saving lives. The case study is available on the Toward Zero Deaths website –  https://www.towardzerodeaths.org/traffic-safety-culture/ – which is dedicated to developing a traffic safety culture by showing examples of what state and local departments can and are doing in their home states. In citing the BUPD initiative as a model, the Toward Zero Deaths group noted that MoDOT’s efforts and extraordinary successes will be a resource to help other departments save lives and improve safety culture in meaningful ways.

These recent recognitions help support MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna’s emphasis areas as president of the American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials: to renew a focus on safety as a national public health crisis and to begin tackling this epidemic by taking Missouri’s successful Buckle Up Phone Down safety initiative to the national level.

As a result, three other states – Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kentucky – are actively promoting the BUPD movement, while 11 states have expressed interest in taking up the cause and spreading the BUPD safety message.

“We are excited to watch the BUPD safety campaign gain national attention and momentum and are grateful to the Toward Zero Deaths consortium and NADO for their recognition of this life-saving effort,” McKenna said. “We have achieved some great results with BUPD in Missouri, including heightened awareness for distracted driving and increased seat belt use. It’s important to note this progress has come despite the fact that Missouri has no primary seat belt law.”

Unfortunately, traffic deaths on Missouri highways so far in 2020 are on the rise when compared to last year, McKenna said.

“The BUPD program is more important now than ever as we are starting to see traffic fatalities in Missouri rise again,” McKenna said. “We must do all we can to stem this unfortunate tide.”

To help continue the initiative’s national momentum, MoDOT has created a BUPD Starter Kit that provides all the tools necessary for other entities interested in implementing the life-saving venture, including a video outlining the history of the program. The Starter Kit is available at https://www.modot.org/bupd-starter-kit, and the video can be found online at https://youtu.be/JX0bL3cxhh8.

MoDOT implemented the BUPD program in 2017 as a way to combat a growing number of fatalities on state roadways and to promote two of the most effective actions drivers can take to stay safe when getting behind the wheel – fastening their seatbelts and putting down their cell phones.

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For more information, call MoDOT at 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) or visit www.modot.org. To receive the latest statewide news and text alerts, signup for e-updates.