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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