Wisconsin Road Deaths Increase As Alcohol-Related Crashes Decrease
It's an interesting contrast. According to the news sources and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 2020 has seen a increase in road/traffic-related deaths - easily surpassing the totals of the last two years. At the same time, Wisconsin is in the midst of a 15-year cycle in which yearly convictions for Operating While Intoxicated and overall alcohol-related crashes is down.
The good news first: News sources report that the Legislative Reference Bureau lists yearly convictions for both OWI's and "certain related offenses" are down by 17,720 in the period covering 2004 to 2018; "Alcohol-related fatal crashes have also declined in Wisconsin in the past 12 years, a trend consistent across the country".
While numbers for both of these alcohol-related categories remain "highest per capita in the northern and central parts of the state", there have been great gains made in the battle. Officials cite policy changes and increased sanctions as the chief cause, although "there is no single or predominant cause".
However - even as alcohol-related crashes and fatalities are on a downward trend, the overall number of traffic-related deaths is on the rise. News sources show that Wisconsin "surpassed the totals for each of the last two years". This increase is a reversal for the state. Prior to 2020, Wisconsin's number of annual road deaths had been declining since 2017.
As we near the end of the year, 2020's traffic-related fatalities number is 573 (as of December 20). Earlier in the year - and earlier in the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic - the number of crashes fell. However, "the number of fatal crashes rose, fueled by extreme speeding as well as impaired and distracted driving".
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