Traffic deaths last month in Wisconsin were the fourth lowest since World War II according to preliminary statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation .

Last month, 36 people died in 29 Wisconsin traffic crashes, 13 fewer fatalities than January 2008 when 49 people died in 46 crashes and 20 fewer than the five-year average of 56 fatalities in 49 crashes for the month. January was tied for the fourth safest month of January since World War II.

Traffic deaths in Wisconsin generally have been declining since the fall of 2007. Last year, 589 people as the result of traffic crashes, which was the lowest annual total since 1944.

"Traffic safety advocates and law enforcement officers are maintaining their efforts to reduce traffic fatalities even further. Ultimately, we're striving to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to zero in Wisconsin," says Dennis Hughes, chief of safety programs for the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.

Traffic and road conditions can be unpredictable this time of year, says Hughes, meaning drivers need to eliminate distractions and pay strict attention while behind the wheel. "If you use a cell phone, eat a meal, read a map or rummage for things on the floor or the dashboard while driving, you're increasing your chances of causing a crash or failing to avoid one," Hughes says.

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