WisDOT: Traffic down, but crashes, fatalities rising

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- Passenger traffic has been significantly down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but crash rates and fatalities are higher than they were year to date in 2019 in Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the nation, according to Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials.

Two top WisDOT officials spoke in a recently released Transportation Connects Us podcast to discuss the phenomenon and contributing factors.

WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson called the data concerning.

"Considering that through 2019 and early 2020, we were toward our goal of zero in Wisconsin," Thompson said. "In conversations with our neighboring states, as well as states across the country, we've learned this situation is not unique to Wisconsin."

Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Anthony Burrell said we're seeing an increase in multiple risky behaviors by driver and passengers. 

"There's an increase in speeding, alcohol and drug use and a decrease in seat belt use," Burrell said. "We've already surpassed the 2019 total fatalities caused by distracted driving."

Thompson said safety is a shared responsibility.

"Every time you get behind that wheel, you have a responsibility to the safety of everyone else on that roadway, as well as yourself," he said.

Burrell said it is about getting everyone where they need to be safe and sound.

"These efforts are not about stopping or citing motorists," he said. "These are about public safety. We want people to voluntarily comply with traffic laws year-round."


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