How safe are Wisconsin roads? - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

How safe are Wisconsin roads?

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Transportation officials say summer can be one of the deadliest times on the road.

"We do this, and we've been doing this for a long time, but no one likes to come across a fatality," said Lt. Bill Millhausen, Marathon Co. Sheriff's Department.

Fatal crashes like the one last weekend in Portage County have attracted attention. Two 21-year-old women died there.

State transportation leaders say efforts to curb traffic deaths are working.

In Wisconsin, 265 people have died this year on the road, but at this time last year that number was 308.

"Fatalities are down about 14 percent from last year and they're down about 8 percent from the 5-year average," said Randy Romanski, State Patrol.

It's the same across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of people who died in crashes in 2011 was 32,367, down from 41,259 in 2007.

"I think there has been a lot of attention to distracted driving and the consequences of distracted driving," said Lt. Millhausen.

Jump back in time and the improvements are even more noticeable.

"Back in the 70s there were twice as many fatalities in a year as there are currently," said Romanski.

Fewer deaths than before, but state leaders say they'll continue to work until that number becomes even lower.

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