Wisconsin Traffic Fatalities Up 14 Percent so Far This Year

Officials in Wisconsin recently reported the lowest number of May traffic fatalities since World War II but continued to express concern over a yearlong trend that, so far, shows that the state’s traffic deaths in 2012 are about 14 percent higher than last year.

There were 46 traffic-related deaths in May 2012, compared with 50 in May of last year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). The average for the month of May over the past five years is 53 traffic-related fatalities.

The month-long record is especially impressive because May can be particularly deadly for drivers during Memorial Day, when traffic crashes from driving under the influence are more likely. This year, six people in the state died in traffic collisions during Memorial Day weekend, compared with seven people last year.

However, state officials said they were concerned that this year’s traffic death total is already higher than last year, with 203 people killed in traffic collisions from January to May this year, compared with 178 during the same period in 2011.

The five-year average for that time period is 207, according to WisDOT.

WisDOT is launching several traffic initiatives to reduce that figure as more drivers hit the road this upcoming season, according to State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety, who said that the department is calling its push the “Summer of Safety.”

“The heavily traveled summer months typically are the deadliest months on Wisconsin roads,” Huxtable said in a statement. “We are striving to reverse that tragic trend.”

The state’s “comprehensive array” of traffic safety enforcement measures will see more officers looking for speeders, drunk drivers and passengers without seat belts, according to Huxtable.

Drivers who don’t want to see their coverage prices rise should watch their driving habits carefully, especially considering the heightened presence of authorities on the road. Depending on the insurer, some traffic violations, like lack of seat belt use, usually don’t lead to higher premiums while other major violations, like speeding or drunk driving, are almost always considered by insurers as valid reasons to hike prices.

Also, a state seeing more incidents on the road can lead to scarcer cheap auto insurance there because insurers typically raise premiums in response to overall trends of policyholders filing more claims related to such incidents. Spikes in especially pricey catastrophic insurance claims statewide or fatality-related crashes can have a stronger impact on premiums.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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