It appears Iowa roadways are becoming safer, as motorists are on track to post the fewest traffic fatalities in the state in 70 years. Sergeant Scott Bright is a spokesman for the Iowa State Patrol. “Currently, our fatality rate is sitting at 280 for the year. We’re down 42 from this time last year. We had 322 at this time last year…we’re hoping to have under 300 traffic fatalities in the state of Iowa this year,” Bright says. Should Iowa finish below 300 traffic deaths, it would mark the lowest total since 304 fatalities were recorded on Iowa roads back in 1943.

Bright is hoping this holiday weekend will be a safer one on Iowa roads than it was in 2012. “Last year, we had nine fatalities (over Thanksgiving) and six of those nine fatalities were not wearing their seatbelt,” Bright says. “We’re hoping this year, when people travel, they’ll make sure everyone is buckled up, even in the back seat.”

Wearing a seatbelt can increase chances of survival in a crash by 50 percent, according to Bright. Even if you’re not in a crash, failing to wear a seatbelt can be costly. A ticket for a seatbelt violation in Iowa carries a fine of $127.50. Bright says, of the roughly 280 people killed in traffic crashes in Iowa this year, 97 were determined not to be wearing seatbelts. There were 365 traffic fatalities in Iowa is 2012, 360 in 2011, 390 in 2010, 371 in 2009, and 412 in 2008.