More people have died on Wisconsin roadways so far this year than all of 2001, and the most dangerous days of the year are upon us.
State highway safety director John Evans said more people are drinking and driving after holiday parties this time of year. And there are more drivers on the road doing holiday errands.
Seven hundred sixty-seven people have been killed in traffic crashes so far this year. That's 49 more than this time last year and three more deaths than in all of 2001.
Transportation officials say higher speeds and fewer people wearing seat belts contributed to the higher number of fatal crashes this year.
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A Motorists Guide to Winter Driving
- To minimize the chances of a weather-related delay, plan ahead with safety in mind.
- Always be sure to check the forecast; if a winter storm is predicted for the area in which you will be driving, think twice, or ask yourself if the trip is necessary.
- Always have an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small shovel, an ice scraper, antifreeze, blankets; nonperishable food; and a first aid kit.
Starting Your Car
- Be sure to turn off all accessories (radio, heater, lights etc.) before starting your car. This will maximize your battery's starting power.
- If your car has a fuel injection system, don't touch the accelerator pedal. For carbureted cars, depress the accelerator once before attempting to start the vehicle. Then, simply turn the key and hold it for a few seconds.
Handling Roadside Emergencies
- Pull as far off the road as possible. This helps to avoid getting hit by another vehicle.
- Indicate trouble by opening the hood and turning on the vehicle's emergency flashers. Place a "Call Police" sign in the rear window.
- Stay in the car. Avoid the temptation of accepting a ride with a stranger. Instead, if someone offers help, ask him or her to notify the police if you do not own a cell phone. Leave only with a marked police car or a state or city emergency vehicle.
- Don't walk or hitchhike, both of which invite trouble-you could either get caught in a storm, or be forced in a dangerous situation involving strangers.
- Always wear seatbelts.
- Remove ice and snow from windows, license plates and lights. Also be sure to clear snow from the vehicle's hood, roof and trunk.
- Reduce your speed while driving. The posted speed limits are for dry, clear conditions only.
- Watch for slick spots under bridges and on overpasses.
- Keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle's fuel line from freezing.
Source: www.icepack.org contributed to this report.