Officials: Traffic fatalities up 14 percent in Wisconsin

AAA officials think mild winter might have contributed to rise

Traffic deaths in Wisconsin have climbed 14 percent so far this year, according to state officials.

The state Department of Transportation figures show 178 fatalities were recorded in the first five months of 2011. As of Friday, the number of deaths this year is 210.

AAA spokeswoman Pam Moen said the increase may be due to a mild winter during which more drivers were out on the highways. Moen said irresponsible driving behavior is also a factor in the number of traffic fatalities — including driving while under the influence of alcohol, lack of seat belts, speeding and distractions, such as cell phones.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that this summer, the DOT will be deploying high-visibility enforcement details to crack down on unbuckled passengers and intoxicated drivers.