The state Transportation Department says 785 people died in traffic crashes in 2004, 51 fewer deaths than the previous year.
The start of the new year was deadly, eight people killed in the first two days of the new year.
State traffic experts attribute fewer fatalities in 2004 to better driver behavior, more seat belt use, fewer deadly motorcycle crashes, stiffer law enforcement and a tougher drunken driving law.
During the 1990s, Wisconsin averaged 728 traffic deaths each year. In three of the past five years, more than 800 fatalities occurred.
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