More than 500 people have died as a result of traffic crashes in Missouri this year, a 13 percent increase over the same time last year. Missouri Department of Transportation figures show 519 lives had been lost as of Aug. 17. Sixty-one percent of those killed did not wear a seat belt. Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E that includes Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Scott, Stoddard, Madison, Wayne, Iron, Stoddard, Butler, Mississippi, Pemiscot, New Madrid, Dunklin and Ripley counties, 40 people have been killed so far this year in traffic crashes. Of those — 23 — did not seat belts. Eleven were wearing a safety device. In four of the accidents it was unknown whether the person was wearing a seat belt. Two were exempt from wearing a safety device. The top causes of the statewide fatalities were driver inattention, speeding, driving impaired and not wearing a seat belt. The 13 percent increase in fatalities bucks the downward trend seen in Missouri since 2006.