LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - In January, 40 people died in 39 traffic crashes in Wisconsin, according to preliminary statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).
Traffic deaths last month were four fewer than last January and three more than the five-year average for the month of January. Traffic fatalities in January included 31 drivers, four passengers and four pedestrians (the role of one fatality has not yet been determined).
The safest month of January in terms of traffic fatalities occurred in 2010 with 20 deaths, and the deadliest January was in 1964 with 82 fatalities.
"Traffic deaths last year increased about 6 percent from the previous year. As we begin 2013, the Wisconsin DOT and our traffic safety partners are committed to reversing that tragic trend," said State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. "Preventing traffic fatalities and injuries is a critical priority in the Wisconsin DOT's Mobility, Accountability, Preservation, Safety and Service (MAPSS) performance improvement program."
A proven way to help prevent crashes is for drivers to pay strict attention to traffic and road conditions, according to Major Huxtable. "If you use a cell phone, eat a meal, or search for items inside your vehicle while driving, you're increasing your risk of a crash," she says. "Eliminating distractions while driving is even more critical this time of year when snow, ice, sleet, fog and other inclement weather reduces your visibility and your vehicle's traction. If you don't pay attention to your driving, you're much more likely to cause a crash or fail to avoid one."