Wisconsin had the fewest traffic fatalities since World War II, ending last year with 589 deaths.
But that's 589 too many. David Collins, Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent, says the reduction in traffic crashes offers little consolation to the victims' grieving family and friends.
"The encouraging news is tempered by the profound reminder that hundreds of men, women and children who were with us at the start of 2008 that sadly did not survive to see this New Year because of traffic crashes."
That's why they're launching a new statewide traffic safety campaign called " Zero In Wisconsin — A Vision We Can All Live With." Larry Kamholz, Triple-A Wisconsin, says we each need to do our part.
"…driving responsibly, limiting the distractions in the vehicle, turn the radio down, limit the number of people in your car, put the cell phone down, no texting, no drugs, no alcohol, driving defensively, driving with courtesy, driving patiently and simply driving safely."
Although 589 traffic fatalities in 2008 is the lowest annual total since 1944, officials say most of those deaths were preventable.
Collins says a contributing factor in the reduction in the number of traffic deaths in 2008 compared with previous years could be due in part to record high gas prices and long stretches of severe winter weather, which decreases traffic volume and speed. He also credits the habits of Wisconsin motorists, law enforcement officers, traffic safety advocates and the medical community.
Kamholz says their education initiatives are also playing a key role in the reduction of deaths on the roads. However, he says the day we can report zero deaths on the roadways, is the day for true celebration.
NOTE: The campaign is being financed entirely with federal funding from the national highway transportation safety administration.