While neighboring states have seen the number of fatalities drop substantially this year, Iowa has been going in the wrong direction. So what's happening?

Through the first five-plus months of 2016, 144 people have been killed on Iowa roadways. That's 31 more than at this time last year, and an increase of 20 percent over the average number of traffic deaths at this time over the last five years. Meanwhile, Kansas is down five from a year ago, Missouri down 22, and Nebraska has had 27 fewer people killed in accidents as compared to this time last year. What's causing this?

Sergeant Nathan Ludwig of the Iowa State Patrol told WHO-TV, "Wear your seatbelt, don`t be distracted and don`t drink and drive. People are so in tune with their phones, movies and what`s going on in the car, they don`t anticipate what's coming at them. We keep preaching it and I don`t know when it`s going to click. I think the higher the number goes, the more awareness we are going to get but we don`t want to get that kind of awareness with those high numbers. We just want to see that number drop."

Please silence your phone or turn it off while driving. Whatever it is will wait, but those few seconds we take our eyes off the road could cost me, you, or someone else an awful lot. I know it's not easy and we always think it won't be us. I bet all 144 people who've lost their lives on Iowa roads so far this year thought the same thing.

[via WHO-TV]