The executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation says you can’t just blame population growth for the 29 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the past three years.

“This comes down to poor choices people make when driving, from not buckling up to driving impaired or using their phones,” Michael Lewis, CDOT’s executive director, said in a news release.

Data released Friday by CDOT shows there were 630 traffic fatalities in Colorado in 2017 – up from 608 in 2016.

Part of this, Lewis says, is the fact that Colorado ranks 36th in the country for seatbelt use, with 16 percent of Coloradans choosing not to buckle up.

The county with the most traffic fatalities in 2017 was El Paso with 76, followed by Adams with 64, Weld with 62 and Denver with 46.

One good part of the data, according to CDOT, is the fact that 20 percent fewer motorcyclists died in crashes in 2017 versus 2016.

Most of the motorcyclists who died in crashes were not wearing helmets at the time.

To see more of the data, head to: