Traffic accidents and citations down, fatalities up in southeast Ky.

Kentucky State Police say accidents and citations in southeastern Kentucky are down compared to this time one year ago. However, fatalities are up.

KSP Post 13 covers Perry, Leslie, Breathitt, Knott and Letcher counties, where a combined 1,174 traffic accidents have been reported so far this year. That's down nearly 13 percent from this point in 2011.

"During our 'Click It or Ticket' period between May 31st and June 3rd, the citations went up and the accidents went down," said Trooper Jeffrey Browning with KSP Post 13.

Despite the number of accidents dropping, the number of fatalities in the post's coverage area actually increased to 17, compared to 16 at this point a year ago.

So is the number of fatalities a statistical anomaly?

"It may be the economy, where more people are trying to carpool or more people are on motorcycles due to the higher gas prices," Browning said.

And the lower number of citations may be an indicator that people are starting to buckle up at a higher rate.

"Statistically, Perry County is around 60 percent seat belt usage," said Major James East with the Hazard Police Dept. "We would like to get our numbers up to the state average of 80 percent."

That means drivers can expect more efforts like the "Click it or Ticket" campaign on an annual basis.

I think it should definitely be enforced," motorist Bill Rickett said. "A lot of people die every year in vehicle crashes not wearing their seat belts."

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