FRANKFORT, Ky (WKYT) - Kentucky State Police keep a close eye on the number of traffic deaths on Kentucky roads. They say while the state was on pace to have less in 2012 than in 2011, a deadly few weeks has changed that.
Since 2008 the number of traffic deaths in Kentucky has gone down every year but 2012 will stop that trend.
"As of today we are 21 fatalities more for this year than we were last year," Trooper Michael Webb said on Thursday.
A constantly updating screen on the wall at their headquarters in Frankfort is a reminder to State Police of how many lives have been lost. As of December 2 678 people had died on Kentucky roads, four less than at the same time last year.
But by Christmas that number had risen to 729, 51 lives lost in just over three weeks.
"It saddens us as troopers and law enforcement officers anytime we have to go and provide a death notification to someone that their loved one has been lost," Webb said.
Police say many crashes, like the one on Wednesday that killed 28-year-old Nora Greene in Grant County, are simply accidents due to weather or mistakes by drivers.
But others, as many as half, are due to circumstances drivers can control.
"Alcohol and no seat belt usage, which is a real tragedy," Webb said.
While police say many of the crashes might still occur, the people involved stand a much better chance of survival when they're restrained.
"When you're involved in a collision at 40 miles per hour and you're not restrained your body is going to go somewhere," Webb said.
Even worse are the people who put others in danger by driving impaired.
"You're taking your life and the lives of others traveling on the road into your hands," Webb said.
State Police say a seat belt isn't the only device that helps save lives. Of the 76 fatal motorcycle crashes they've seen in 2012, more than half weren't wearing helmets.