Traffic deaths in Nebraska continue to escalate.

For the the fourth straight year the number of road-related fatalities is likely to increase.

According to statistics from the state’s Department of Transportation, the number of traffic fatalities for 2019 is already higher than the number of road deaths in nine of the last 11 years.

Through November there have been 229 deaths on Nebraska roads this year. 

For all 12 months of 2018 there were 230 traffic deaths. 

For all of 2017, 228 deaths.

2016: 218.

2015 found 246 traffic deaths, the worst since 256 in 2007.

The number of alcohol related deaths this year are not yet available, but between 2012 and 2017, one out of every three deadly crashes involved drinking.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis tells News Channel Nebraska that even one drink can be one to many.

And then there are seat belts. In Nebraska drivers who are not buckled up cannot be pulled over by police unless they’ve done something else wrong. It’s called a secondary offense and for years has been just fine with Governor Pete Ricketts who told me in 2015: “The secondary offense is a way we can make sure that we’re sending the right message that people should wear their seat belts but also balancing off that individual liberty.”

Cathy Chase, with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in Washington D.C. disagrees.“Some legislators are resistant to inflict the role of government or like a nanny state concept but it is so important for people to know that nearly half of all fatalities are people who are not buckled up.”

So far this year, 66 percent of those drivers or passengers who died were not wearing seat belts, similar to the state average of 71 percent over the last 20 years.

Unlike neighboring Kansas and Iowa, Nebraska is one of 16 states still standing by the secondary offense rule.

At the same time in the last few years the state has increased the speed limit up to 75 miles an hour on rural interstates and 70 on some stretches of state highways.