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Part two: Wisconsin traffic deaths up 14 percent

In our previous post, we wrote about the disturbing news that Wisconsin traffic fatalities are on the rise after several years of historically low numbers.

As of the end of last month, 203 people had died in traffic crashes in Wisconsin in 2012, up from 178 through May of last year.

A AAA spokesperson spoke of the disappointing numbers: "We thought we were making good progress," she said, but the 2012 figures show that the state is "not off to a good start" this year.

Like other traffic experts, she cites a couple of contributing factors for the increase in fatalities: more people are traveling this year than in recent past years, and there are persistent, irresponsible driving behaviors that continue to plague motorists.

One of those irresponsible behaviors: failing to wear seatbelts. Not only does the unbuckled person put himself at considerably higher risk of sustaining an injury, but the unbuckled person also becomes a dangerous, even lethal weapon inside a vehicle in an accident. They're thrown around inside the vehicle and can cause injuries when colliding with others.

Another irresponsible behavior is on the rise: texting and other cellphone use by drivers. These kinds of distractions have been shown to be dangerous to everyone on the road. The technological distractions cause drivers to repeatedly take their eyes off of the roads, where conditions and speeds and other unexpected changes regularly occur without warning.

Seatbelt enforcement crackdowns are underway in La Crosse, Dane, Door and Douglas counties, officials said, with OWI task forces patrolling southeastern and eastern Wisconsin.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Traffic deaths in Wisconsin reverse course, jump 14%." Nicolle Levy, June 10, 2012

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