Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fatal driving in WI, the state of denial

Connect the dots, since WisDOT won't:

*  Wisconsin raised its freeway speed limits with the Assembly GOP Speaker leading the charge against the 2015 urgings of the experts, and an increase in crash deaths was predicted:

Encouraging Wisconsin drivers to go faster is going to cost lives.
Cars in a crash
*  A jump in deaths was being tracked by state officials in early 2016.

*  And year-end data recently released showed an overall annual traffic fatality increase, but state officials cited just about everything but the speed limit increase as a factor:

"Low gas prices and an improving economy in 2016 likely contributed to an increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the miles they traveled. An increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) can also increase the risks for crashes," says David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.
"The 2016 VMT will not be available for several more months. However, VMT in 2015 was up nearly 2.1 billion miles compared with the previous year and that was the largest statewide increase in 17 years. It seems likely that VMT in 2016 was high as well," Pabst says.
He emphasizes that about 90 percent of crashes are caused at least in part by bad decisions and dangerous habits by drivers. In addition, multiple behavioral factors may be involved in a crash.
"Speeding, impaired driving and lack of safety belt use have for many years been frequent factors in fatal crashes," Pabst says.
 "In recent years, there’s been an increase in distracted driving including the use of cell phones behind the wheel. The dangers of distracted driving, also known as inattentive driving, are not exaggerated. During the last five years, an average of 97 people were killed and more than 10,000 were injured annually in crashes in which at least one driver was listed as driving inattentively. Because distracted driving greatly increases the risk of causing a crash or failing to avoid one, people always need to pay attention to traffic and road conditions."


Anonymous said...

Correlation does not imply causation, but you already know that Jimmy. But I'll add this to the list progressives in Wisconsin want overturned if we elect a Democratic governor in 2018, I can see the add now, if elected I'll push to return the speed limit to 55. Yeah, that's going to sell.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see your point. Obviously, deaths have increased after the limit was raised, and WisDOT officials are pointing to valid explanations e.g. more traveling etc. This seems reasonable, as more driving, all else equal, leads to more risk (which is why rational people wait for final Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) numbers before jumping to the alarmist conclusions in your piece). This has historically been the case as the economy rebounds and/or gas prices drop, independent of speed limits.

Neighboring MI, for example, also saw an increase in fatalities last year. Speed limit? Nope - there was no change in their limits last year, and officials there are citing similar reasons as in WI.

Nearby SD, meanwhile, saw their lowest fatality numbers in years last year after they too increased their limit by 5 mph, from 75 to 80, contrary to the same previous hysterical predictions.