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Richland County Zero Traffic Fatalities in 2015

Wisconsin traffic deaths rose 13% last year, but the D-O-T says it's still too early to tell if the increase in freeway speeds is a factor.

556 people lost their lives in state crashes in 2015 – up from 494 the previous year, which was the lowest annual total in 71 years. Wisconsin increased its speed limit from 65-miles-an-hour to 70 last summer on most Interstates, and on similar four-lane roads late in the year. Early reports a few weeks ago indicated an increase in crashes in the 70-zones, but the D-O-T's David Pabst says it's too early to tell what the statewide impact is. He blames an improved economy, a warm spring, and lower gas prices for higher traffic volumes, and the higher numbers of crashes that resulted.

While the statewide total of traffic deaths increased from 2014 to 2015, there were two counties in Wisconsin that experienced zero traffic fatalities. After experiencing seven traffic deaths in 2014, Richland County joined Pepin County as the only in the state without a roadway fatality last year. A lot has been made about the DOT's “Zero in Wisconsin” campaign, but Richland County Coroner Jim Rossing said it's a noteworthy accomplishment to achieve that goal.

As for other local counties: Crawford County experienced 5 traffic fatalities in 2015 – up from 1 in 2014; Grant County had 7 – an increase from 5 the year prior; Iowa County went from 2 in 2014 to 3 last year; and Sauk County suffered 9 traffic deaths last year – a decline from 13 the year before.