JEFFERSON CITY — Watermelon. Flip flops. Doing a cannonball off the high dive on a sunny afternoon. Summer can evoke any number of wonderful memories.

But summer also has a dark side. In 2018, there were 307 fatalities on Missouri roads in the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety urge all who travel in and around the Show-Me State during the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” to buckle up, slow down, drive sober and never drive distracted.

“It’s easy to let your mind wander when you’re on the road in search of summer fun,” said Jon Nelson, executive chair to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, in a press release. “Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings, especially with the increased traffic. Never drive too fast for the conditions and be aware of everything that is going on around you.”

In 2018, more than half of the 107 motorcycle fatalities occurred in the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. The warm, sunny days also bring out more bicyclists and pedestrians. And last winter’s brutal weather conditions mean you’re likely to encounter more MoDOT road crews who will be repairing the damage. Just a single moment’s distraction can lead to a life-or-death encounter.

MoDOT recommends being proactive about your own safety. Of the drivers and passengers killed in 2018 traffic crashes, 62% were not wearing a seatbelt.

“Last year, there were 46 days without a fatal traffic crash in Missouri,” Nelson said. “The longest span without a fatality was two consecutive days. How many days in a row could we achieve zero fatalities? Three? A whole week? Even longer? More zero days means a less deadly summer.”

Nelson also encourages drivers to plan ahead for summer celebrations and sporting events.

“If you’re driving, don’t drink. If you’re drinking, designate a sober driver beforehand,” he said. “We encourage all drivers to take responsibility and make smart choices so that everyone gets home safe.”

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