Traffic deaths down across the state

CREATED Dec. 27, 2013

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GREEN BAY (AP) -- This year is on pace to be one of the safest on Wisconsin roads.

According to preliminary figures from the state Department of Transportation, 519 people have died in Wisconsin motor vehicle crashes through Sunday.

Press-Gazette Media reports the number is below last year's total of 601 and the annual average of 571.

Michael Panosh, with the State Patrol's Bureau of Transportation Safety, says 2013 is on track to rival 2009, which was the safest year since World War II. There were 542 deaths.

Law enforcement officials attribute the reduction in numbers in part to increased traffic enforcement and continued education on seat belt use and driving while intoxicated.

Panosh says a longer motorcycle season last year was a factor in the spike of fatalities.