Speeding Is Out of Control
City has big problem. More cops, cameras, traffic citations needed.
Speed kills when it comes to driving. The Wisconsin DOT reports that speed was a contributing factor in 18% of all vehicle crashes, and 30% of crash fatalities in 2013. Senseless tragedies unfold nearly daily in our community, like the 60-year-old man walking along S. 44th St., minding his own business, who was recently struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. WisDOT reports one person died or was injured in a speed-related vehicle crash every single hour on Wisconsin roadways in 2013.
For one thing, we are not issuing enough citations. WisDOT data indicate the number of citations for excessive speed issued in Milwaukee County declined 42% between 2008 and 2013. That cannot be right. You can bet it’s not the result of motorists driving more prudently. A 42% decline? That’s nothing short of a crisis in enforcement of the law.
Let’s stop the “lip service” and the sporadic enforcement efforts, and make putting a stop to speeding on our roadways a priority. Let’s set aside a significant block of time (not fewer than 3 months) when we really enforce our speed limit laws, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are a few common sense suggestions to start:
- Put more police motorcycle units on the street to beef up enforcement of our traffic laws.
- Mount video cameras atop stop-and-go lights, not for direct enforcement, but to gather real-time data so we can quickly identify traffic hot spots to dispatch police officers for targeted enforcement.
- Station uniformed auxiliary police at problem-traffic locations. Granted, they cannot issue citations, but their visible presence is sure to have a calming effect.
- Park empty, unused or unusable, police squad cars in high-visibility locations where speeding is a problem. Just seeing a “black and white” will slow drivers down. Move each squad after a few days when drivers catch on, or replace it with a manned unit, and write a few citations. These vehicles are not currently helping taxpayers and parking them on the street “magically” increases the number of traffic officers on the street to deter speeding.
These suggestions are a start, but to have any hope of putting a stop to the out-of-control speeding in the City of Milwaukee, we need a concerted effort. The City, the County Sheriff and the police departments of municipalities surrounding Milwaukee must cooperate, and coordinate their apprehension efforts with respect to drivers who speed without regard to the safety of others in and out of various jurisdictions. We are all in this together.
The Municipal Court, too, must hold speeders who are cited accountable for their irresponsible behavior by meting out the full measure of justice. Drivers who speed should leave court with their heads hung low, chastened, with a visceral understanding for how their recklessness has endangered the lives of everyone else on the road, whether it’s another driver, an older man innocently walking along or a child waiting at the crosswalk on his or her way home from school.
Chief Flynn, this is a start toward reducing the speeding that endangers the lives of all who venture onto the streets of Milwaukee. The next move is yours.
Mark Borkowski is Milwaukee’s 11th District Alderman.