MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is urging motorists to drive safely after reporting an increase in fatal crashes.

The agency noted Wednesday that 209 people have died in crashes so far this year, 16 more deaths than at the same time in 2021. WisDOT said most of those who died were the driver of the vehicles involved.

As summer travel begins soon, the ministry reminds families that road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“Unfortunately, many tragedies resulting from dangerous driving are 100 percent preventable,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson. “We need everyone to do their part to keep our roads safe. Drive sober. Buckle up, phone. Every trip, every time.

The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day typically bring more fatalities and injuries, the department said.

WisDOT also noted that seatbelt use has dropped two percentage points since 2019, with a 2021 survey indicating that 88% of drivers and passengers buckle up.

Other states across the country are also reporting an increase in crash deaths and risky driving behaviors, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting a 10.5% increase in road deaths in 2021. This is the largest annual percentage increase in nearly 50 years since this agency has tracked this data.

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