Wisconsin traffic deaths rise 6 percent in 2016

Wisconsin traffic deaths rise 6 percent in 2016

Transportation officials say traffic deaths rose in Wisconsin in 2016 by nearly 6 percent.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation released preliminary statistics on Tuesday showing the state ended 2016 with 588 traffic deaths. That was 33 more than in 2015 and 40 more than the five-year average.

Officials say traffic deaths in 2016 were the highest since 2012 when 601 people died on Wisconsin roads.

Director David Pabst of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety says low gas prices and an improving economy in 2016 likely meant more vehicles on the road and more miles traveled.

Pabst says an increase in miles traveled can increase the risk of crashes. He also says most crashes are caused by bad decisions and dangerous habits by drivers, including cellphone use behind the wheel.