Officials report a 10 percent increase in traffic deaths in Iowa between 2002 and 2003, but Scott Falb of the Iowa D-O-T says the trend’s exaggerated because there were an exceptionally low number of traffic deaths in 2002, and 2003 was actually an average year for roadway fatalities. Falb says Iowa still is one of the safest states in which to drive, with fewer fatalities per miles driven. Falb says among peer states of similar size with similar rural/urban population splits, Iowa’s among the lowest in that grouping in terms of traffic deaths. Falb says there are several reasons, like the 87 percent seat-belt usage rate in Iowa. In addition, Falb says Iowa has done a good job in making road improvements.Falb says the Iowa D-O-T has been ahead of the curve in anticipating traffic demand, building four-lane expressways between major metros, which has lessened traffic flow on more dangerous two-lane county roads and highways. Falb says Emergency Medical Services are another factor in reducing traffic fatalities. Falb says the state has good regional trauma centers as well as excellent air ambulances that rush critically-injured drivers and passengers to the hospital.