WisDOT: WisDOT secretary announces ‘Summer of Safety’ initiatives to reduce traffic crashes
State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable,
WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety
WisDOT secretary announces ‘Summer of Safety’ initiatives to reduce traffic crashes
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary Mark Gottlieb announced today (May 25) an array of initiatives to make the upcoming months a “Summer of Safety” for motorists.
In his remarks at a news conference in Milwaukee, Secretary Gottlieb noted that there has been significant progress recently in reducing the number of traffic fatalities in Wisconsin. Each year, from 2008 to 2011, Wisconsin had fewer than 600 traffic fatalities. The last time Wisconsin had fewer than 600 annual traffic fatalities four years in a row was in the mid-1920s when the number of vehicles and the miles traveled were a fraction of what they are today, according to WisDOT statistics.
“But now we’re extremely concerned about increase in traffic fatalities so far this year,” Secretary Gottlieb said. “There are many factors involved in this disturbing trend. We can’t control every factor. But we can reduce the risk of motorists killing and injuring themselves and others by improving traffic safety enforcement, education, and engineering. These are the areas where we will focus our efforts. Our department has been at the forefront of statewide traffic safety efforts for many years. Based on our past successes, we’re ready and eager to do even more.”
He added, “Our ultimate goal is to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to ‘Zero In Wisconsin.’ And to reach that goal we need everyone’s help, especially now as we start the heavily traveled summer months, which generally are the most deadly on Wisconsin roads.”
The following list includes many of the major components in the WisDOT Summer of Safety initiative.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Summer of Safety – 2012 Traffic Safety Activities
Traffic deaths in Wisconsin so far this year have increased compared with the same period last year. The Department of Transportation is launching a series of initiatives during the summer of 2012 to address traffic safety and combat rising fatalities. These efforts include a combination of education, enforcement and engineering activities.
· The Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program will hit the road this summer with THE REF (Transportable High-End Rider Education Facility) to reach out to the motorcycling community and the general motoring public.
· On average for the past five years, traffic crashes have killed nearly 100 motorcyclists and injured approximately 2,500 each year.
· The Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program is now celebrating its 30th anniversary and, during that time, has trained approximately 160,000 novice and seasoned riders.
· The Motorcycle Safety Program emphasizes that motorists need to share the roadways and watch for motorcycles especially at intersections and while making lane changes.
· Motorcyclists must obey all traffic laws, never ride while impaired, wear conspicuous and protective gear and clothing, including a DOT-approved helmet and keep their riding skills sharp through life-long rider training.
Click It or Ticket Safety Belt Enforcement Mobilization: May 21 to June 3
· A major reason for traffic fatalities is unbelted drivers and passengers who were ejected from vehicles during crashes and sustain fatal injuries as a result.
· It is a proven fact that wearing a safety belt will protect motorists from being ejected from a vehicle or thrown around violently inside it during a crash and possibly striking another vehicle occupant with massive force.
· Wisconsin’ safety belt use rate is approximately 79 percent, which is substantially lower than the national average of 86 percent.
· To increase safety belt use, hundreds of law enforcement agencies throughout the state will mobilize for the national Click It or Ticket campaign from May 21 to June 3, which includes the heavily-traveled Memorial Day weekend.
· New TV and radio spots featuring Donald Driver are part of Click It or Ticket.
· The goal of the mobilization is not to write more tickets but to increase voluntary compliance with Wisconsin’s safety belt law.
· Wisconsin has also initiated four multi-jurisdictional High Visibility Enforcement seat belt enforcement pilot projects (in Dane, Door, Douglas and La Crosse Counties) that are deploying primarily at night to change driver behavior and get people to buckle up.
· If more people buckle up, we can reach our ultimate goal of reducing the number of preventable traffic deaths to Zero In Wisconsin.
Summer Heat and Speed Enforcement: July 2 to 18
· On average, more than 200 people are killed each year in speed-related crashes in Wisconsin, accounting for more than 30 percent of all traffic fatalities.
· During the Summer Heat mobilization, the department will provide federal grants to local law enforcement agencies to combat speeding in one of the highest traffic-fatality months.
Aerial Speed Enforcement
· The department is working cooperatively with local law enforcement agencies for intensified traffic safety enforcement that includes the State Patrol’s Air Support Unit to monitor traffic speeds.
· Aerial speed enforcement is limited, with support focused on reducing excessive speed, aggressive driving and following too closely.
· Aerial enforcement can provide a deterrent effect in getting travelers to slow down.
· Wisconsin has initiated a multi-jurisdictional high visibility enforcement speed and aggressive driving enforcement detail using aerial enforcement on Highway 151 from the Iowa State line in Grant County to Dodge County. Similar speed details may be added on other highway corridors. Aerial enforcement details will be used throughout 2012.
· Construction zones are often areas where it is difficult to enforce traffic laws because of lane restrictions and inability to observe violations.
· Fines for violations in work zones are double the usual amount when workers are present. Posted work zone speed limits are in force even when workers are not present.
· Rear end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash. Although construction workers are always at a great risk of being hit, about three out of four people killed in work zone crashes are motorists.
· On average during the last five years, there were nearly 700 work zone crashes annually in Wisconsin that killed 10 people and injured nearly 800.
OWI Task Forces
· The department is working cooperatively with local law enforcement to deploy OWI (operating while intoxicated) enforcement details. These are often targeted in entertainment districts or during times known for celebrations.
· The details are typically announced in advance to serve a deterrent effect.
Crackdown on Drunken Driving: August 15 to September 3
· Drunken driving will be the focus of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown.
· Approximately 40 percent of traffic deaths in Wisconsin are the result of alcohol-related crashes. These deaths are tragic and preventable.
· Tough laws, backed by effective enforcement are part of, but not the entire, solution. On average, there are about 40,000 convictions for drunken driving each year in Wisconsin. But law enforcement officers will never be able to arrest every drunken driver.
· To prevent the devastation and death caused by drunken drivers, people ultimately need to change their behavior and decision-making. First and foremost, drivers must take personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others. They can designate a sober driver before drinking, take a cab or find another way home from a bar or party.
· Everyone must be courageous enough to stop a friend or loved one who’s impaired by alcohol or other drugs from getting behind the wheel.
· Parents need to set a good example for their own children and teenagers, who are future drivers, by always driving sober.
Child Passenger Safety Seats: September 16 to 22
· Child Passenger Safety Week and National Seat Check Saturday will be recognized in mid-September to educate the public on the importance of properly securing children in vehicles to keep them safe.
· The department has produced a new 12-minute instructional video that provides information on the legal requirements for child passenger safety in Wisconsin. The video also provides other resources and “best practices.”
· The video will be distributed in cooperation with hospitals and other provider organizations.
· Rumble strips will be installed on about 500 miles of two-lane rural roadways.
· The rumble strips will be done as part of rehabilitation projects and also through retrofitting them by milling (grinding) shoulder and centerline rumbles into existing pavement.
· The goal is to reduce the number and severity of roadway departure crashes. These consist of run-off-the-road and cross center line crashes on undivided roads.
· For the last five years, 36-40 percent of Wisconsin fatalities are due to the combination of run-off-the-road crashes and cross center line crashes, with 90 percent of them occurring in rural areas.
· Rumble strips assist motorists while driving during inclement weather conditions such as fog, snow or heavy rain that obscures roadways; aid snowplows and assist drivers who may unintentionally stray when visibility is poor.
· National research and monitoring of rumbles in other states, show compelling crash reduction figures. Based on this research, rumbles strips could save hundreds of lives in Wisconsin.
· The department is also moving forward this summer with a series of other roadway improvements in corridors with significant crash/safety concerns.
· The approaches being used include things that can be done relatively quickly and at a reasonable cost – and that offer significant public safety returns. These include:
o Installing wider pavement markings
o Improving traffic signal timing to enhance traffic flow
o Installing dynamic curve warning signs
o Doing pavement patching to minimize debris and loose pavement that can impact motorcyclists, bicyclists and other travelers.
Road Safety Audits
· Road safety audits are a proactive approach to improving transportation safety. The audits provide a comprehensive examination of a future or existing roadway in which an independent, qualified auditor reviews and reports on safety issues.
· The department has conducted a number of county, tribal and corridor road safety audits. It is expanding the program in 2012 and plans to conduct more road safety audits to improve safety and communicate specific actions to help reduce crashes.
Traffic Safety Messages
· Pop-up and banner safety messages will start to appear on Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) web pages. The web provides an opportunity to reinforce safe driving messages directly to a prime targeted audience – drivers who are doing service with the DMV.
· Safe driving messages are promoted prior to the peak summer holiday travel periods during Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. ·
Safe and sober driving is the focus of messages at various minor league baseball stadiums around the state, including the La Crosse Loggers and Madison Mallards.
· WisDOT is partnering with AT&T and AAA Wisconsin to provide presentations at high schools around the state to educate students on the dangers of texting while driving.