Wisconsin Ends 2011 With Less Than 600 Traffic Deaths

For the fourth consecutive year, Wisconsin in 2011 had less than 600 traffic deaths. The last time such a streak occurred was 84 years ago, from 1924 to 1927.

Wisconsin ended 2011 with 569 traffic deaths, which is seven more than 2010, but 59 less than the previous five-year average, according to preliminary statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“We are encouraged that traffic fatalities in Wisconsin are at levels not experienced since the 1920s when the number of vehicles and the miles traveled were miniscule compared to today,” said State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, director of the Bureau of Transportation Safety, in a news release. “There is no single factor that caused a reduction of this magnitude during the last four years. Certainly, the economic downturn and high gas prices had an effect on traffic volumes. But most fatal crashes are caused by bad driving habits and irresponsible decisions. Therefore, motorists who slow down, pay attention, buckle up and drive sober deserve a great deal of credit for saving their own lives and the lives of others. Nevertheless, because most traffic deaths are preventable, more than 500 annual fatalities are still far too many.”

Huxtable also credited law enforcement officers throughout the state, emergency medical responders, highway engineers and the entire traffic safety community for their tireless and effective efforts to prevent crashes and save lives.

Traffic deaths among drivers and passengers increased from 395 in 2010 to 410 in 2011, about a 4 percent increase. Fatalities for bicyclists and pedestrians also increased slightly in 2011 compared with 2010.

There was about an 18 percent reduction in motorcyclists’ deaths, from 104 in 2010 to 85 in 2011.

“We must always remember that 569 people died in crashes last year, and many of those deaths could have been prevented,” Huxtable said in the release. “It is the responsibility of all of us who use our highways, local roads and streets to do everything we can to make travel as safe as possible to reach zero preventable deaths in Wisconsin.”