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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Traffic fatalities in Kentucky in 2013 were lower than they've been in decades, but traffic deaths in Louisville have risen significantly.
State police say the number of highway fatalities in 2013 are the lowest they've been since 1947. As of Dec. 30, 628 traffic deaths had been reported throughout the state. That's a 15 percent drop from 2012.
However, it's a different story for Louisville, where fatal wrecks increased by 25 percent. With New Year's Eve approaching, a woman who lost her grandson in one of those fatal crashes has a message for every driver: "Wear your seatbelt it saves lives."
"He just cared for everybody regardless of their age or size, he just gave himself," Peggy Keen said as she remembered her grandson, Brandon Mudd, who was 19 when he died.
Mudd and his friend, Kendall Daub, died after the car he was in was involved in a crash with a UPS truck in December near Churchill Downs. Both teens were graduates of Butler High School.
They were not wearing seat belts.
"When he (Brandon) was younger, I'd pick him up and if he wouldn't put it on I'd sit there," Keen recalled. "And he'd say, 'What's going on?' I'd say, "Put your seatbelt on,' and he did. But somewhere in the last couple of years he lost that."
Police in Louisville cite lack of seat belt use as one of the reasons for Louisville's increased fatality rate compared to the rest of the state. The other two reasons: driving too fast and driver distraction (texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, etc.).
New Year's Eve traditionally marks the deadliest driving day of the year, mostly due to DUIs.
Kentucky State Police will be conducting checkpoints on New Year's Eve, and Louisville police do not want to see any more fatal wrecks this year, so you can expect increased patrols saturating the city.
Meanwhile, Keen will face the new year without her grandson, something she hopes other people can avoid.
"I miss him," Keen said, "and if he would have only worn his seatbelt then maybe it would have saved him."