MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin had six percent more traffic deaths last year than the previous year.
The state DOT said Thursday that 601 people were killed on state highways in 2012. That’s 36 more than the year before – and it’s two more than the average for the past five years.
It also ended a string of four years with fewer than 600 traffic deaths – the first time that’s happened since 1927.
State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable said motorcycle deaths rose by 34 percent last year, due mainly to dry weather and an early spring that kept motorcyclists on the roads longer. 114 bikers were killed throughout Wisconsin, the most since the record year of 1979.
Also, deaths by car and truck passengers jumped 37 percent. Huxtable said it was because fewer people were wearing their seat belts – and many of those people were ejected or thrown violently in their vehicles.
She said about 80 percent of Wisconsin motorists buckle up – less than the national average of 86 percent, and less than the 90-plus percent compliance rates in neighboring states.