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Lower gas prices could be contributing to increase in Wisconsin traffic deathsSubmitted: 08/08/2016
Story By Ben Meyer

Lower gas prices could be contributing to increase in Wisconsin traffic deaths
WAUSAU - Lower gas prices this summer please most Wisconsin drivers. But those same low gas prices could be leading to more deaths on Wisconsin roads.

Sixty people died in traffic crashes during July, making it the deadliest month so far this year.

The total number of year-to-date traffic deaths is 16 percent higher than this time in 2015.


The Wisconsin State Patrol thinks several factors might be at play.

"Some of those factors are an increased number of holiday travel vacationers for the summertime," said Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Dan Gruebele, who is based in Wausau. "Also, due to the lower gas prices we've experienced and a stimulus in the economy, those are contributing factors."

Those lower gas prices might be encouraging more people to use the roads. The State Patrol says drivers can't seem to shake the habit of distracted driving.

"It just keeps continuing and continuing due to, maybe, generational differences where people are so accustomed to having smartphones in their life that they really can't live without it, even when they're on a short trip in their vehicle," Gruebele said.

So far this year, 338 people have died on Wisconsin roads.

Many deaths are also due to drunken driving. The state will start its annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign on August 19.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

IRON COUNTY - One person died in a snowmobiling incident in Iron County early Sunday morning. The victim was identified as a 47-year-old female.

According to a press release by the Iron County Sheriff's Department, dispatch received a call at 1:52 a.m. reporting a snowmobile crashed on Trail 17 just outside Hurley and the operator was unresponsive.

First responders arrived at 2:04 a.m. and began taking life saving measures. The driver was then transported by rescue sled to Beacon ambulance and then to Aspirus GVH in Ironwood, MI.

After continued life-saving measures, the 47-year-old female was pronounced dead at Aspirus Hospital.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Sunday he wants state lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at curbing youth vaping and educating the public about vaping's potential dangers.

The bills Evers, a Democrat, is requesting would ban vaping and vapor products on K-12 campuses and expand the definition of public health emergencies. Another bill would fund a public health campaign to address youth vaping in the state and a fourth proposal would expand the enforcement capacity of the Departments of Revenue and Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to prevent vaping products from being sold to minors.

The governor's office outlined his proposals in a press release Sunday.

"As a parent, grandparent, and lifelong educator, I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our kids," Evers said in a statement. "Vaping is a serious public health epidemic and it is time to take action."

The governor's office said vaping products pose serious health risks to young users because the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can harm parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

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RHINELANDER - High school and middle school cross country skiers spent the weekend competing in Rhinelander for the annual Ascension Northwoods Nordic Hodag Challenge.

The two-day event attracted teams from more than 10 different schools across Wisconsin, and some schools from Michigan.

Head Coach for Rhinelander Nordic Charil Reis said her team spent a lot of time hitting the trails thanks to the generosity of mother nature. 

"We've been blessed with a lot of snow this year, so we haven't had to do a lot of indoor type of practice," said Reis.

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RHINELANDER - The League of Women Voters of the Northwoods held a session on how to vote in Wisconsin at ArtStart earlier this evening.

They highlighted the voting process including what forms of ID are required.

Co-chair of the group, Debra Durchslag said she was happy after Sunday's turnout.

"I was very pleased to see a new group of interested Oneida county residents who are very much interested to register unregistered voters," said Durchslag

The League is a non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public about local and national politics.

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EAGLE RIVER - Professional snowmobilers took to the racetrack in Eagle River this weekend. However, they weren't the only ones riding on some top-of-the line sleds.

Arctic Cat was at the derby offering demo rides on their 2021 models. People got a chance to try out the different machines, and put money down on a model of their choice.

Sales director Joe Klosterman said it's important for people to try before they buy.

"We do it to give an experience to the consumer," said Klosterman. "You wouldn't buy a car without driving it. We've also got a new model this year that I think is going to bring a lot of new people into the industry." 

Demo workers took guests out on a 10-mile loop to experience some of the best trails in the Northwoods. Those trails featured curbs, some fresh powder, and lots of bumps to test the machines' suspension.

Klosterman said Arctic Cat sold lots of sleds over the weekend thanks to the promotion.

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OSHKOSH, WIS. (AP) - A Wisconsin teenager who was shot and wounded when he stabbed a school resource officer has been ordered to stand trial.

Grant Fuhrman, 17, is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the Dec. 3 attack at Oshkosh West High School.

Fuhrman is accused of stabbing Mike Wissink multiple times with a barbecue fork. Court documents say the officer was unable to reach his stun gun so he shot Fuhrman twice. Neither was seriously injured.

The school was evacuated and classes were cancelled for two days.

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PRICE COUNTY - One man has been arrested in connection to recent burglaries in Price Co. according to a Facebook post by Phillips Police Chief Michael Hauschild.

The post made Saturday at 10:00 a.m. goes on to say the Phillips Police Department and Price Co. Sheriff's Department are still actively investigating reported burglaries.

On Monday, the Phillips Police Department released the photo of an individual they believe is responsible for at least one recent burglary in Price Co.

In a Facebook post, the department announced a recent string of burglaries in the City of Phillips. Shortly before 4:00 a.m. Monday, the alleged burglar was photographed by security system cameras outside a local business.

Police say storage sheds in Price Co. have also been burglarized along with a detached garage next to a home.

According to Hauschild, a burglary at the Harbor View bar & grill is still being investigated. Police are looking into several tips that were provided by citizens.

More updates will be provided as the investigation continues. 

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