Lack of seat belt use continues to be a common denominator in fatal crashes in the Cowboy State.

Of the 56 people killed on the state's highways so far this year, 72% were not buckled up, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Beck.

"That's too high," said Beck.

"It's unfortunate for a law enforcement officer," he added. "It's frustrating for them when they're working a crash where they know that more than likely if the person would have been buckled up, they would have probably stayed inside the vehicle and not been fatally injured."

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Beck says another frustration is the number of teenagers not buckling up.

Of this year's fatalities, 13, or 23.21%, have been teenagers -- two 15-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, four 17-year-olds, four 18-year-olds, and one 19-year-old -- only two of whom were buckled up.

"The only thing that law enforcement can continue to do is educate folks and try to encourage them to wear their seat belts," said Beck. "It's not only a state law, but it also could save your life."

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017, and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been buckled up.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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