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If you drive in Douglas County, you may think you have a good idea about how safe – or unsafe – the roads are. But do your thoughts about highway safety in the county match up with what statistics show?

We looked through data provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to help Douglas County residents understand the state of roads in their area. Check out the seven facts we’ve highlighted below, and be sure to stay alert and safe on the road!


1. U.S. Highway 53 is a well-known danger zone for motorists. As the images below show, many of the injuries and nearly all of the fatalities that occurred in the county in the past three years happened on or around Highway 53. (Images courtesy of Google Maps via Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)

Accidents that resulted in injuries (2014-2016)

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Fatal accidents (2014-2016)

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2. Most accidents in the county occurred in a rectangular area that roughly encompasses the area bordered:

  • From Superior to Brule River State Forest
  • From Brule River State Forest to Solon Springs
  • From Solon Springs to Highway 35, just south of Pattison State Park
  • From that point on Highway 35 up to Superior

3. Where Highway 53 meets U.S. Highway 2 near Amnicon Falls State Park is also an area of major concern. If you look back at the map of traffic accidents, you’ll see a significant concentration of crashes in this narrow area.


4. Thankfully, Douglas County averages only five traffic fatalities a year (based on Wisconsin Department of Transportation data from 2011-2015). While this is still five fatalities too many, it pales in comparison with many of the higher fatality counties in the state and is lower than the statewide average of 8.4 fatalities per county.


5. Douglas County outperforms its rank when you compare population rank with the number of accidents in the county. While Douglas County is the 33rd most populous state in Wisconsin, it ranks 37th in the average number of accidents.


6. However, the county underperforms when comparing population rank with the number of fatal accidents. Douglas County is in a three-way tie for 29th place (average number of fatalities from 2011-2015).


7. Accidents in Douglas County happen on all kinds of roads, but are more prevalent on certain types. Forty-four percent of accidents occur on local roads/city streets, 43 percent occur on state highways, 9 percent happen on county highways and 4 percent occur on interstate highways.


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