JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians will be asked to sign pledges to drive safely under a new highway safety campaign launched Tuesday by the governor.
Gov. Mel Carnahan held a press conference yesterday to help kick-off the Missouri Millennium Promise 2000.
The campaign asks Missouri highway drivers to sign a statement saying they will wear seat belts, drive sober, follow the speed limits and drive defensively.
"We are all responsible for the public safety of our state," said Gary Kempker, director of Public Safety. "We do not have to accept traffic deaths as an aspect of travelling on our streets."
The signature cards will be distributed by Highway Patrol troopers, other law enforcement officer and other corporate partners, including Shelter Insurance in Columbia.
A card will be distributed to an individual who would be encouraged to sign on and keep part for their own wallet and would be asked to mail the other half in. Joyce Marshall, director of the Highway Safety Division said she hopes to have two million people committed to driving safely by 2000.
In Missouri, someone dies in a traffic accident every 7 hours. There is a reported traffic accident every six seconds, according to the Division of Highway Safety. Seventy-one percent of those killed in vehicular crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
During the press conference, Carnahan became the first Missourian to sign "The Promise." He said he wanted other Missouri citizens to join him in his commitment to safer roads.
"Improving public safety is one of the most important things we can do for the state of Missouri," he said. "I am pleased to be the first Missourian to sign the Missouri Millennium Promise. Traffic crashes are not acceptable. Traffic crashes are preventable."
In the area of legislation, Col. Weldon Wilhoit, superintendent of the Patrol, said stronger enforcement of the mandatory seat-belt law would be the single most effective action lawmakers could take to save lives on the highway.
"Those states that have the highest seat belt use are those that have the primary seat belt law," he said.
Although current law requires use of a seat belt, a ticket cannot be issued unless the driver had been stopped for some other traffic violation.