Wisconsin Traffic Fatalities Rise, Even As Road Traffic Declines

Transportation Officials Point To Speeding, Impaired Driving As Factors

car at stop light
A motorist waits at a stop light. Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

While road traffic has fallen in 2020 because of the coronavirus, the number of deaths on Wisconsin roads is on the rise.

Figures compiled by the state Department of Transportation show that as of Sunday, 534 people had been killed on roads and highways so far this year. That figure surpasses the 502 deaths the state reached by the same time in 2019.

DOT Secretary Craig Thompson said there’s evidence the state is seeing more instances of drivers engaging in risky behavior.

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“Our Division of State Patrol handled traffic violations where we gave out tickets for people going 100 miles per hour or higher, 500 of those last year,” he said. “So far this year — and it’s not done yet, we’re in November — they’ve issued 1,137 for people driving over 100 miles per hour.”

The state has also seen a decline in seat belt use and concerning levels of impaired and distracted driving.

“Sixty-one percent of these fatalities we can attribute to one of the four risky behaviors: either speeding; not wearing a seat belt; driving impaired; or distracted driving,” Thompson said.