For Immediate Release
For more information, contact: Cheryl Wittke, Executive Director, Safe Communities of Madison – Dane County, (608) 256-6713
Traffic Crashes Down, Fatalities Up in 2022
Forty-four persons lost their lives in 1,770 Dane County injury-related motor vehicle crashes last year, according to preliminary data from the Traffic Safety Commission (TSC), which reviews county crash data reported by police departments and the WI State Patrol. Compared to the previous 5 year average, in 2022 the number of crashes with injuries decreased 22% and the number of fatalities increased 24%. “This is an alarming trend,” said Cheryl Wittke, executive director of Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County and TSC co-chair. “It should be a wake-up call to everyone to think about how to stay safer when using Dane County streets and highways to ensure this trend doesn’t continue.” In 2022, Dane County experienced 8,914 total motor vehicle crashes, of which 20% involved injuries or deaths.
One positive trend from 2022 data reported at the recent TSC meeting was a significant decrease in injuries and deaths from motorcycle crashes. “Last year, two persons died in motorcycle crashes, compared to a five-year average of six. This bucks a national trend of increasing motorcyclist fatalities,” noted TSC member Randy Wiessinger, Law Enforcement Liaison/Consultant with Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety. Non-fatal injuries from motorcycle crashes were down 41%.
The 48-member Dane County Traffic Safety Commission conducts crash reviews quarterly. For October – December 2022, most fatal traffic crashes were outside Madison, consistent with the entire year. Four were in the City of Madison, and the others in the City of Verona, Village of Maple Bluff, and Towns of Sun Prairie, Burke, Roxbury, Deerfield, Rutland, Dunn and Dunkirk.
One notable quarterly trend was that an increasing number of Dane County drivers were killed in crashes when there was rain, snow, slush, or ice on the roads. Deaths also increased from driver failure to stop at red lights and stop signs. Nearly half (6) of the thirteen Dane County crashes resulting in fatalities last quarter involved poor weather-related road conditions or running a red light or stop sign. Wittke noted this increase is consistent with a trend in all of 2022. “Last year, thirteen people lost their lives in crashes when weather had negatively affected road conditions, compared to a previous five-year average of seven. Six died in crashes when a driver failed to stop at a stop sign or red light, significantly higher than the previous five-year average of one, and the highest number since 2016,” Wittke said.
Trends on running red lights in Dane County mirror those cited in a recent national survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, showing drivers self-reporting a 12% increase in red-light running from 2020 to 2021.
“Running a red light or stop sign is a driver’s choice,” noted Wittke. “And so is driving too fast around an icy curve or not fully cleaning snow off windshields and mirrors. We can control what we do as drivers, but we cannot control the behavior of others. This all points to the need for more defensive driving by each of us.” Wittke said in the 13 fatal crashes this past quarter, four of the deaths were of persons who were pedestrians or riding in a vehicle other than the one causing a crash. “Whether driving, running or walking, we need to be extra vigilant during inclement weather and at intersections.” She noted that in a previous traffic count at a busy Madison intersection, motorists ran red lights once every 30 seconds.
“Dane County TSC members are collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Traffic Safety on new county-wide strategies to be announced shortly,” Wittke said. “By working together, we can have even a stronger impact.”
- In 2022 there were 8,914 motor vehicle crashes in Dane County. Twenty percent (1770) resulted in injury or death.
- In 2022, 38 crashes resulted in 44 fatalities. This was the second deadliest year in the last five.
- The number of crash fatalities in 2022 increased 24% from the previous five-year average even while the total number of all injury-related crashes was 22% lower.
- The most significant 2022 improvement was a decrease in injuries and deaths from motorcycle and bicycle crashes. Last year, two persons died in motorcycle crashes, compared to a five-year average of 6. Three pedestrians were killed compared to a five-year average of 7. All motorcycle injuries were down 41% and bicycle-related injuries down 27%.
- In 2022, 6 persons died in crashes when a driver failed to stop at a stop sign or stop light, compared to a previous five-year average of only 1.
- In 2022, 13 died in crashes when weather negatively affected road conditions, compared to a previous five-year average of 7.
- Of the 13 fatal crashes during the fourth quarter of 2022 (October-December):
- 4 fatalities were pedestrians or riders in vehicles other than the one causing the crash.
- 3 involved drivers running a red light or stop sign.
- 3 involved poor weather conditions (snow, ice, slush, water, fog).
- 25% were unrestrained; 25% were teen or senior drivers; and 33% involved alcohol.
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The following may be contacted for comment directly:
- Crash trends and Traffic Safety Commission role/membership: Cheryl Wittke, Exec. Director, Safe Communities of Madison – Dane County and TSC co-chair. firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 256-6713
- Motorcycle crash trends: Randy Wiessinger, WI Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety; contact through DOT Office of Public Affairs, email@example.com, (608) 266-3581.
- Traffic crash data/trends: Jeremy Kloss, Program and Policy Analyst, WI Bureau of Transportation Safety and Technical Services; contact through DOT Office of Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 266-3581.
- AAA study on red light running and tips for driving in bad weather: Nick Jarmusz, AAA Wisconsin, email@example.com, (608) 556-4744.