Now that 2013 is over, the Accident Records Unit of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is tallying up numbers regarding accidents on the state’s roads. One of the first statistics the unit has released is the number of car accident deaths for the year. The results reveal that last year was the safest year the state has seen in some 69 years.

The unit reports that 527 people died in vehicle crashes in 2013. The last time the number was that low was in 1944 when 526 people were killed in auto accidents. When broken down by counties, some counties had fewer deaths in 2013, while others had more.

For instance, Eau Claire had four traffic deaths, which is significantly lower than the 10 people lost in 2012. By contrast, Chippewa County’s number of vehicle accident deaths more than doubled to 11 deaths, which is alarmingly higher than the five people that were lost in 2012. Overall, however, there was a 12 percent drop throughout the state.

The number of passengers that died in 2013 dropped nearly 33 percent from 2013. Further, motorcycle accident deaths dropped to 80 from 102 in 2012. Just how many of the deaths in 2013 are attributed to drunk drivers is not yet known, but between 2008 and 2012, alcohol was a factor in 42 percent of Wisconsin’s traffic related deaths.

These numbers are encouraging, but the loss of even one life is too much — and especially to the families of the 527 people that died last year. Those families retain the right to file wrongful death claims seeking to recover the damages that invariably accompany a fatal car accident. Damages such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs and pain and suffering may potentially be recoverable if the negligence of another party to the accident can be proven in civil court.

Source: chippewa.com, Fatal crashes more than double in Chippewa County, No author, Jan. 4, 2014