Wisconsin rural interstate crashes increase by more than 2,000 since 2012

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – Across the country, people are getting into more car crashes. Over the past five years, there has been an increase in crashes on interstates in Wisconsin. In 2012, there were 3,559 crashes. In 2017, that number jumped to 5,608 crashes (you can find more data below).

“You know we’ve had an increase of number of vehicle miles traveled, which plays a part of it,” said Lt. Les Mlsna of the Wisconsin State Patrol Eau Claire Post. “Speed may play a part of it. Distractions while driving may play a part of it. So, there’s just so many different factors. Weather definitely plays a factor in those crashes.”

News 18 spoke with Eau Claire truckers who said one of the biggest concerns they see on the roads is people on their cellphones. President of River City Transport Bob Ayes said truckers must have both hands on the wheel at all times.

“You can see in the vehicles and a lot of them are steering with their knees,” said Wayne Helland, trucker for River City Transport. “[They] have their phones in their hand and they’re texting away. Next thing you know they’re drifting into your lane.”

Helland has been trucking for about 19 years. He said he’s seen his fair share of crashes and the reasons behind those crashes. Even if drivers are speeding, or texting and driving, Helland said many of them point blame at truck drivers.

“You get it all the time,” Helland said. “You’re the big one. Everyone wants to get around you because they think you’re slowing them down and whatnot.”

However, trucking companies like River City Transport have safety initiatives in place to keep everyone safe on the roads.

“We’ve got front end collision avoidance systems, lane deviation warnings, systems to limit the speeds our trucks can travel as well,” Ayes said.

Lt. Mlsna said technology may be key to helping everyday drivers as well.

“Now you have lane assist, or lane braking, or when a car senses you are getting to close, it backs off for you,” Mlsna said. “So, it’s making some good decisions that we would hope normal drivers would make, but it’s making it for them. So possibly that could help in the future. We’ll see.”

In addition to safety systems already in place, half of the River City Transport fleet already has in-cab cameras that provide video in case of a crash, and performance feedback for drivers.

2012-2017 Rural Interstate Crash Stats for Wisconsin (provided by the Wisconsin DOT)

2012: 3,559

2013: 4,081

2014: 4,176

2015: 4,263

2016: 4,740

2017: 5,608

2018: 4,564 (preliminary)

Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt

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