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Traffic deaths down in state in 2009

MADISON - Officials said yesterday that 545 people died in Wisconsin traffic crashes in 2009 - the lowest since 1944, when gasoline was rationed during World War Two. There were 42 fewer deaths last year than in 2008 - a drop of seven-percent. Fatalities were down in every category, including motorcyclists and pedestrians.

Wisconsin safety expert says the recession is not the only reason traffic deaths are way down. The DOT's Dennis Hughes says drivers should get credit for being more responsible. Hughes said the recession reduced the number of miles driven - but it's not the entire reason deaths went down. He said alcohol-related crashes dropped 30-percent in 2008, and officials expected to see another decline for '09 when more detailed figures come out in the spring.

Hughes says most accidents are caused by bad driving habits and irresponsible decisions - so motorists deserve credit for slowing down, buckling up, driving sober, and paying more attention on the roads.