MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The number of people killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes increased in 2012, after four consecutive years of decline.
Preliminary numbers from the state Department of Transportation show 601 people died last year on Wisconsin roadways. That's 36 more fatalities than the year before.
State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable says nearly half of motorists who died last year were not wearing seat belts. Huxtable tells The Post-Crescent that Wisconsin's seat belt use rate of about 80 percent is lower than the national average of 86 percent. And, it's far below a 90 percent rate for neighboring states.
Contributing to the rise in fatalities were motorcycle deaths which increased 34 percent from the prior year. Unseasonably warm and dry weather extended the season for motorcyclists in 2012.