Wisconsin has one of the lowest rates of traffic accidents in the country. But we are still talking about tens of thousands of accidents. And injuries and fatalities have crept up in recent years.

The Department of Transportation has a plan to reduce these preventable tragedies. To put the  numbers into perspective, their “Highway Safety Clock” shows just how often people’s lives are changed or cut short by motor vehicle accidents.

The clock is always ticking on the next accident

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation tallied 129,024 total traffic accidents across the state in 2016. Those crashes killed 588 people and injured 43,230 people.

The DOT’s Highway Safety Clock breaks down the statewide numbers into a sobering reality:

  • Traffic crash – every minutes
  • Crash injury – every 13  minutes
  • Speed-related injury or death – every 1 hour
  • Teenage driver killed or injured – every 2 hours
  • Alcohol-related injury or death – every 3 hours
  • Motorcyclist killed or injured – every 4 hours
  • Pedestrian killed or injured – every 7 hours
  • Bicyclist injured or killed – every 9 hours
  • Traffic fatality – every 16 hours

After decades of trending down, injuries and deaths have risen sharply since 2009 in Wisconsin and nationwide. There are many factors, from the increased traffic in a healthy economy to the epidemic of texting while driving.

Traffic experts have a plan to slow down the clock

The DOT has an ambitious plan to reduce traffic accidents casualties by the year 2020. The goal is to reduce fatalities by 5 percent, serious injuries by 10 percent and pedestrian/bicycle accidents by 10 percent.

The department’s multi-pronged strategy targets dangerous driver behaviors and other “fixable” factors such as:

  • Distracted driving and impaired driving
  • Speeding and aggressive driving
  • Driver performance and driver training
  • Occupant protection
  • Intersection safety and pedestrian safety

Toward zero fatal accidents

The big goal is zero traffic deaths. It will take many years to eliminate all motor vehicle accidents. As the saying goes, it takes a village. Or in this case, a whole state. Each of us can do our part to slow down the Highway Safety Clock. Hopefully in the foreseeable future the news will report “No traffic accidents in Wisconsin today” or “It’s been 30 days since any Wisconsinite died in a car crash.”