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Report: Auto fatalities up in Wisconsin despite less driving

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Auto fatalities are up in Wisconsin despite there being fewer people on the road amid the coronavirus pandemic, a report released on Tuesday by the Wisconsin Policy Forum found.

Although all crashes and injuries were down from what they were with the same period in 2019, crashes in which someone was killed and the number of crash-related fatalities were up. Fatal crashes increased by more than 17% and total crash fatalities grew by 20%, the report found.

At the same time, alcohol-involved crashes were up 50%, drug-involved crashes up by 46% and speeding-related crashes up by 52%, the report said.

Other Midwestern states have also seen increases in auto fatalities this year, but Wisconsin was out of step with nationwide trends, the report said.

The increases came during a time when far fewer people were on the road. Preliminary data for the second quarter of 2020 show that vehicle-miles traveled in Wisconsin was down more than 26% from the comparable figure for 2019.

The reasons for the spikes are not full understood, the report said, but “the stress and isolation associated with the pandemic as well as the rise in unemployment may have contributed to increased levels of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” Fewer cars on the road, and reduced law enforcement, may have also led people to drive faster, the report said.

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