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DIGGING DEEPER: Iowa County crash numbers rise each year, unlike surrounding counties

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DODGEVILLE (WKOW) -- Crash numbers in Iowa County have risen consistently each year for the last five years, and officials with the Iowa County Sheriff's Office say it's due to a lack of people power to slow drivers down and a tricky-to-navigate corridor stretching the length of the county.

"With a snowy day like today, we will spend a considerable amount of time with our deputies tied up on U.S. Highway 151," said Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek.

Michek says with its high speeds and curves, Highway 151 is a problem for crashes year-round -- especially in the winter.

"It's a road that really was not designed to be a 65 or a 75 mile per hour road," he said.

Michek says that's part of the reason Iowa County sees so many crashes.

This graph shows the number of crashes each year (2015-2019) in the counties surrounding and including Iowa County. (Key: Orange = Dane, Yellow = Sauk, Pink = Grant, Green = Green, Blue = Lafayette, Purple = Richland, Red = Iowa)

Iowa County is the only county of those surrounding it to have more crashes each year over the last five years.

Michek says that's in part because there's a lack of people power to help slow drivers down on that difficult road.

"I have one state trooper that's assigned to Iowa County," he said.

Michek says 10 years ago, there were four troopers -- but staffing shortages meant troopers had to move elsewhere, stretching his deputies thin.

"With only one state trooper that works Iowa County and myself, I only have two to three deputies working at any given time," Michek said. "There are not enough law enforcement people that are out there slowing traffic down."

He says he's asked the State Patrol for more troopers, but he understands the position they're in.

"It's a struggle, and I understand that," he said. "And we keep trying to do the best we can."

Michek says while law enforcement officers work to do the best they can to keep the roads safe, they need drivers to help, as well.

He says people need to slow down and know the limits of their cars, so that if they do hit bad conditions, they maintain control -- and don't add to that crash statistic.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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