MU Engineering, MoDOT commemorate Buckle Up Phone Down Day

Three men with yellow foam thumbs pose by a banner.

Carlos Sun, right, and two members of the Missouri Department of Transportation celebrate Buckle Up Phone Down Day. Photo by Amy Parris.

Mizzou Engineering hosted the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Buckle Up Phone Down Day event on Friday, Oct. 19 in Lafferre Hall. The event showcased the importance both entities place on saving lives by promoting traffic safety.

The Buckle Up Phone Down initiative’s goal is to challenge drivers across the state to wear their seatbelts and put their phones away while driving. Nearly 5,000 individuals and 400 businesses — including MU Engineering — have taken the pledge.

According to MoDOT, “more than 90 percent of serious crashes are caused by some form of human error. Texting while driving increases the risk of a car crash by 50 percent, and as of Sept. 30, 61 percent of 2018 fatalities involved unbuckled drivers or passengers who may have survived if they had been properly restrained.”

“Research has demonstrated that wearing seatbelts and eliminating needless distractions helps save lives,” Mizzou Engineering Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Student Success Hani Salim said. “Tackling these critical issues is key to keeping people safe on Missouri’s roadways.”

MoDOT and MU Engineering hosted a press event, followed by a variety of activities intended to promote roadway safety, including the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Seat Belt Convincer, which simulates the force of a very low-speed vehicle collision to illustrate the necessity of proper seat belt usage.

Speakers at Friday’s event were:

  • Salim
  • MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester
  • MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood
  • Susan DeCourcy, regional administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Brent Drummond, Missouri State Highway Patrol
  • Keller Colley, a crash survivor and representative of ThinkFirst Missouri
  • Carlos Sun, MU Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor

Sun discussed his 27 years of experience in transportation engineering and introduced a video that illustrated research done on distracted driving in ZouSim. ZouSim is a sophisticated simulator world consisting of driving, trucking, walking, bicycling and wheeling simulators that can be modified to represent any location. It is one the only one in the entire country. Attendees had the opportunity on Friday to test their skills utilizing the simulator.

Colley and Drummond gave impassioned pleas for proper roadway safety techniques based upon their personal experience, while MoDOT and NHTSA traffic safety experts discussed the importance of proper seatbelt usage and eliminating distracted driving.

“The challenge is simple: When you get into any vehicle, buckle up your safety belt. If you are a driver, put your cellphone down. Turn it off if you have to,” said Hood. “Taking the challenge to make sure every passenger is buckled up and choosing not to use your phone while driving can help save your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of occupants in other vehicles.”

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