Kansas traffic fatalities up 16 percent so far in 2016

Fatal Accident (Courtesy: KSAL)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas transportation officials say more than 300 people have died in traffic accidents this year, a 16 percent increase over the same period in 2015.

Kansas Department of Transportation traffic safety manager Chris Bortz says there was a 25 percent increase in traffic fatalities last year, with nearly 360 deaths.

Bortz says the increase is a national phenomenon and that distracted driving is likely one of the causes.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 50 percent of traffic fatalities in Kansas involve people who weren’t wearing a seatbelt.

About a third involve people driving while distracted, and another third involve people driving while drunk or otherwise impaired.

Interim transportation secretary Richard Carlson says that even looking down at one’s cellphone for what seems like a short amount of time is dangerous.