DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa State Patrols says the high number of traffic deaths in the state is slowing down investigations.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, there have been 282 deaths due to vehicle accidents as of Monday. That’s 37 more deaths compared to the same time last year. It’s the state’s highest number of deaths by vehicle crashes through that date in five years.

Spokesman Sgt. Nathan Ludwig says the state patrol has been assigned to investigate 125 of these cases this year, which is 24 more than a year ago.

Ludwig said 60 cases are still open, with no determination of whether charges will be filed, however 20 of those cases are nearing completion.

The Des Moines Register ( ) reports that the agency does not have any full-time crash investigators. Ludwig says troopers investigating these crashes also have other duties to fulfill.

The increase in fatal crashes caused Gov. Terry Branstad to take action. Branstad said in July that he wants to address cyclist and motorist deaths on Iowa roads as part of next year’s state legislative priorities.

Some families of crash victims have expressed distress with the slow pace of investigations.

“It’s not just me waiting, it’s our entire family… We want answers. We want to know. It’s been very devastating,” said Samantha Bell, niece of a recent crash victim.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,