MILWAUKEE — In Wisconsin traffic-related fatalities increased out on the roads in 2021.
According to preliminary numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the state recorded 594 traffic deaths – the highest number since 2017.
In 2020, with fewer people on the roads, the state saw 540 traffic-related crashes, which at the time was a record number.
With the new year, Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin, is urging drivers to change some habits out on the roads.
"Especially as more people are getting on the road and beginning to drive more and get back to their regular commuting patterns, there's just the potential for a lot more tragedy and avoidable tragedy out there on the roads," said Jarmusz.
To avoid a collision, Jarmusz said drivers should slow down, buckle up, avoid distractions, drive sober and get enough sleep.
"Deprivation, at one point in our life, and we know that it can impair our ability to function properly, and that's no different behind the wheel," said Jarmusz.
And buckle up. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the state’s safety belt usage rate is nearly 90%. But restrained or improperly restrained drivers and passengers make up nearly a third of all traffic fatalities. Safety belts and child safety seats dramatically reduce fatal injuries when they are consistently and properly utilized.