Buckle Up Phone Down: A Safety Challenge That Can Make a Difference

The Joplin Health Department is challenging teens and all drivers to buckle up and put their phones down to reduce car crashes, as it is the number one cause of death among teenagers. This work is an initiative of the Health Dept. to help reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities under a contract with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Buckle Up Phone Down campaign is tackling the two most impactful actions a driver can take to prevent crashes — or survive if one occurs. The Missouri Department of Transportation began “Buckle Up, Phone Down” in 2017 to begin reducing this statistic. This campaign has been adopted by many states and has received national attention.

As part of this effort, Friday, October 21, 2022 has designated as Missouri Buckle Up Phone Down Day. The State of Missouri is pushing for ZERO fatalities on roadways on Friday, October 21.  One way to do this is if everyone would buckle up every time they are in the car, put their phone down, or set it to “do not disturb” while driving. Distracted driving is on the rise. Distracted driving can also include “impaired” driving due to alcohol, drugs, excessive sleepiness, and other activities people do when driving.

The Health Department initiated an informational campaign on its Facebook page with individuals demonstrating the Buckle Up Phone Down symbol. To do this, a person gives a “thumbs up” with their right hand and a “thumbs down” with their left hand. They also encourage many people to participate in this photo opportunity and post it on their own Facebook page using the hashtag #buckleuphonedown

Read more about this initiative and take the pledge at: www.modot.org/bupd

Below are statistics related to this safety promotion that clearly demonstrates the need for all drivers to Buckle Up and put their Phone Down.

Buckle Up:

In 2020, more than 975 people lost their lives in Missouri traffic crashes, an increase of 10% from 2019. Missouri’s current safety belt usage rate is 86% with the unbuckled 14% accounting for 349 fatalities in 2019.

Phone Down:

Over the past five years, cell phone-related crashes in Missouri have increased by 30%, with nearly 2,500 crashes in 2019. Right now, Missouri has a “no texting” law for drivers aged 21 years and under. But distracted driving isn’t just a young driver’s problem. Approximately 70% of drivers using cell phones in Missouri traffic crashes were 22 years of age or older. We are challenging all drivers to honor that ban no matter what their age.


Lynn Iliff Onstot, Public Information Officer
City of Joplin
417.624.0820, ext. 204