Zero is a big number to shoot for in traffic deaths

ZERO CAN MEAN NOTHING or it can mean everything. For several years now, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has been promoting its “Zero in Wisconsin” campaign for driver and highway safety.

The name comes from the stated goal of zero highway deaths in the state.

That’s a goal we can all support and should all get behind.

While zero highway deaths may seem like an impossible goal, a state of perfection that is beyond reach, it nevertheless is a goal more than worth pursuing – after all, more unbelievable things have occurred.

While the DOT campaign was making tremendous progress over its first several years, the past year or more has seen some backsliding.

After traffic fatalities fell to a 71-year low in 2014, dipping below 500 for the first time since 1943, the number was back up in 2015, to 556. And for the first two months of 2016, the number of traffic deaths across the state was above the number for the same two months of 2015.

There are, of course, a number of factors that go into compiling those unwelcome numbers.

Better weather, an improving economy and dropping gas prices combined to put more people on our highways in recent months, and they are driving more miles. All of that increases the risk for crashes and fatalities.

But that just means that all of us need to do even more to control what we can control behind the wheel to get those numbers back down.

According to experts, most traffic crashes are caused by poor behaviors such as speeding, driving while impaired, distracted driving and failure to wear a seatbelt – all factors which each and every one of us individually can control. Dangerous driving behaviors contribute to more than 100,000 fatal, injury and property damage crashes every year.

Most, if not all, of us have been touched at one time or another in our lives by a fatal highway crash, whether we were directly involved or we suffered the loss of a family member, relative, friend or neighbor to such a crash.

The Zero in Wisconsin campaign provides a few tips for all drivers that can help move us all closer to that goal. They include watching your speed and driving at a safe, legal speed; never driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or certain prescription medications; limiting distractions, whether it be talking or texting on a cell phone, applying makeup, eating or other things that take a driver’s attention from the road, where it is demanded; and buckle up, as a seat belt is a safety device that is proven to save lives.

With warmer weather coming, the return of road construction season is also on the way, here in Sheboygan County and throughout the state and nation.

Driving through work zones demands even greater attention to driving without distractions, not only to prevent accidents but also to keep highway construction workers safe and alive.

Safe driving is something we all can do better. Zero deaths in the state from car crashes may or may not be an attainable goal, but certainly we can all do our part and do better to get the highway death numbers moving back in that direction again. And who knows, we still might be able to get there someday – sooner better than later.

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