According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 2016 saw a slight increase in deaths from vehicle crashes than 2015.
In the Troop H area, which includes 15 counties in Northwest Missouri, 39 fatalities were reported for 2016. This is a 5 percent increase over the 36 reported the year before. 2013 and 2014 each saw 28 vehicle fatalities.
Of the 39 deaths, 26 were not wearing seat belts or using other safety devices. One death was a pedestrian, and in two cases, it is unknown if a safety device was used.
The most recent vehicular fatality reported by the Highway Patrol occurred on Dec. 29 and resulted in the death of an 60-year-old man.
Two vehicles traveling on U.S. Highway 169 near Union Star, Missouri, collided and James Evans was killed. Evans was wearing a seat belt.
Vehicular fatality rates also have risen statewide. In 2015, 870 people died from traffic accidents in Missouri. Last year, 931 were killed in vehicular crashes.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, seat belt usage in 2016 in Missouri is at its highest rate at 81.4 percent. The national seat belt usage rate in 2015 was 88.5 percent.
People who drive pickups have the lowest rate of seat belt usage at 69.7 percent, according to the FHA. Statistics taken from 2012 to 2014 suggest that 82 percent of pickup drivers who were killed in crashes were unrestrained.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol also indicated that there were two drowning incidents in the area this year and none in 2015.