For the first time in ten months, traffic crashes in Wisconsin increased in August.
Figures released by the state Department of Transportation show 83 people were killed in traffic crashes during the month of August, 17 more than August of 2007. State Transportation Safety chief Dennis Hughes says that's also higher than the five year average of 72 deaths. Hughes says it ended a ten month streak where Wisconsin traffic fatalities consistently declined.
The reasons for the higher number remain unknown, but Hughes admits there are some theories. The most prevalent is that a decline in gas prices got more people out on the roads driving fast. Hughes says those higher speeds can increase the risk of serious injury or death if you're involved in a crash.
Despite the jump in fatalities, Hughes says Wisconsin is still on track for an overall safe year. Traffic crashes on Wisconsin highways have claimed 400 lives so far this year, down 88 from 2007.