the logo of Wisconsin DOTs Zero in Wisconsin campaign to reduce traffic fatalities

Wisconsin's July Traffic Deaths Lowest Since WWII

The state's seat belt usage rate was 44th in the nation at 74 percent when a primary enforcement law took effect July 1. The Zero in Wisconsin campaign was launched to reduce traffic fatalities.

July 2009 was the safest month in terms of traffic deaths in Wisconsin since World War II, with 44 deaths recorded, according to preliminary statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. That means Wisconsin is now on the long road to achieving the goal of the department's Zero In Wisconsin campaign to reduce the more than 500 traffic deaths annually in the state.

WisDOT explains the campaign this way: "In Wisconsin, our ZERO VISION means that any preventable traffic death is one too many. By staying within the speed limit, being sober behind the wheel, and buckling up, you can do simple things that can turn more than 500 annual deaths into zero."

As of July 31, a total of 296 people have died in Wisconsin traffic crashes during 2009. The total includes 51 motorcycle drivers, five motorcycle passengers, 16 pedestrians, and six bicyclists, and it is 19 fewer than during July 2008 and 105 fewer than the five-year average.

"July is typically a high-fatality month, so the drop last month in traffic deaths is quite astonishing," said Dennis Hughes, chief of safety programs for WisDOT's Bureau of Transportation Safety. "We don't have enough data yet to theorize why this happened. But it's worth noting that July was the first month for primary safety belt enforcement in Wisconsin, and we feel that more people may be buckling up as a result.

"August is another month for a potentially high number of traffic fatalities," Hughes added. "Because impaired driving causes so many serious traffic crashes, hundreds of law enforcement agencies throughout the state will mobilize for the 'Drunken Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest' national crackdown from Aug. 21 through Labor Day."

The highest fatality totals in July for the state were July 1978 and July 1979 with 114 deaths.

This site offers firsthand accounts of how fatal crashes have affected parents, friends, and families in Wisconsin and also a video showing how simple changes in driving behavior will prevent motorists from injuring and killing themselves or others.

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