Wisconsin Traffic Deaths Surpass Last Year’s Total

Police Conducting More Traffic Patrols Through New Year's Day

stop light
Niels Sienaert (CC BY-NC-ND)

The number of traffic-related deaths in Wisconsin this year has just surpassed last year’s total.

According to the state Department of Transportation, there were 577 traffic fatalities as of Dec. 17. That’s three more than the total number of deaths in 2016.

David Pabst, director of the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety, said in some ways Wisconsin drivers have started taking safety more seriously, but there have been discouraging signs too.

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“Seat belt use rate is up to 89 percent; we went up 1 percent from last year. People are starting to make better decisions,” Pabst said. “And yet you have those months where people are not making good choices and are dying on the roads excessively.”

Pabst said those choices include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as texting behind the wheel.

“Drugged driving is started to take the place of drunken driving,” Pabst said. “Although drunken driving with alcohol is still a serious, serious problem.”

State and local law enforcement are conducting additional road and highway patrols through New Year’s Day as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative.