Ald. Mark Borkowski
Op Ed

Speeding Is Out of Control

City has big problem. More cops, cameras, traffic citations needed.

By - Mar 2nd, 2017 12:28 pm
Slow Down

Slow Down

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.

The worst part is, we could put a stop to this senseless carnage if we just took the bull by the horns and committed ourselves to enforcing the speed limit laws that are already on the books. Posted speed limit signs on our streets, as well as signs warning drivers to slow down and watch out for children, seem to have become mere suggestions to far too many motorists. It’s got to stop, now, before summer when traffic really picks up. Driving in Milwaukee, both city and suburbs, has become like venturing out onto the Formula 1 race track during State Fair.

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.

20 thoughts on “Op Ed: Speeding Is Out of Control”

  1. Devin says:

    “Contributing factor” in 18% of crashes.

    So what are the other contributing factors? What is the percentage of crashes where speed is the only factor? I’d much rather encounter a speeding driver than someone texting on their phone, eating, or inputting directions into their navigation. I think distracted driving is a much larger menace, especially on city streets. I can see someone approaching quickly when I’m in a crosswalk and I’ll know to wait. I don’t necessarily realize the person approaching a red light, even at normal speed, isn’t paying attention.

  2. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Mark is right, Car Jacking, speeding is the watchword of Milwaukee. Dangerous. I will not let my wife fro east of 92nd st.

  3. Ryan Shortridge says:

    I agree that speeding in Milwaukee is a dangerous nuisance. We need to enforce the laws that already exist and write more tickets for speeding, not yielding to pedestrians and running red lights. Granted, Milwaukee’s high poverty rates make payment difficult for some.

    An innovative solution would be to link traffic citation fees to income. Someone making $200,000 isn’t impacted by a $200 speeding ticket, whereas someone making $20,000 probably can’t even pay it. A sliding scale for fees would make the monetary fine imposed ‘penalize’ everyone equally; it would bear the same burden upon everyone.

  4. Deon says:

    I think the police of Milwaukee have bigger fish to fry than writing citations for speeding. Mark’s statistics are pretty irrelevant to proving his point. Mark, do us all a favor and stay in the right lane. If all of Milwaukee’s “Marks” stayed in the right lane we wouldn’t have to pass them using the curb lane!!

  5. Rich says:

    Or the city could engineer its roads better to eliminate 90% of the stupid driving, like high speed passing on right (as shown in picture above; through bike lane, no less!) and better demarcation of left turn areas to reduce the amount of drivers impatiently (again) passing on right at intersections (even more dangerous due to sight lines). These permanent changes would go much farther for much longer than even a 1000 traffic cops distributed all over town. Spend & pontificate wisely, Mr. Borkowski!

  6. SnowBeer says:

    Speed doesn’t kill, relative speed does. There are far worse problems for us to spend our money on. This is just something simple to enforce with little benefit.

  7. Duane Snyder says:

    Mark lists his common sense solutions, more of his “the world is scary, let’s become a police state” nonsense.

  8. Sam says:

    @ WCD Your wife is missing out on a lot of good things then. Do you let her out of the bunker now and again? Or is it not safe?

  9. GPKWH says:

    “Mark is right, Car Jacking, speeding is the watchword of Milwaukee. Dangerous. I will not let my wife fro east of 92nd st.”
    What a great solution.No one from Waukesha county can come into our city. Drug deals would then move to the suburbs, prostitution would almost be eliminated. Our city streets would have less traffic and it would be easier to enforce traffic laws. We would not have to provide free services to the citizens of Waukesha county like fire, ambulance, and police protection. Our parks, lakefront, museums, festivals, concerts etc. would be easier to attend and have less snooty people to contend with. Of course they may reciprocate, but what would we be giving up? A meal at a chain restaurant? A visit to an overpriced homogenized shopping mall? Or maybe a trip down the racetrack formerly known as Capital Drive west.

  10. Jessica Wineberg says:

    Thank you for this piece. I’m part of MilWALKee Walks, a group working to make crossing the street safer, and we agree that speed enforcement is sorely needed. We just met with the Chief and are developing an education plan. I invite Ald Borkowski and anyone else interested, to come to the next meeting to see how we can help solve this problem together. The next meeting is Tuesday, Mar 7th at 3pm in the meeting room at the Center Street library. Come and share your ideas and energy.

  11. Eric S says:

    @Rich – exactly. The best solution to reckless and dangerous driving is engineering – building streets to encourage safe driving, not stroads engineered for speeds that are incompatible with urban areas. (And, no, I’m not referring to freeways – I’m not particularly concerned with speeds driven on freeways, as drivers there generally do not interact with non-drivers.) When streets are reconstructed, safety rather than throughput and minimizing delays ought to the primary consideration. Enforcement does have a role, especially until streets come up for reconstruction and in those major problem areas – it is unfortunate that more efficient automated enforcement of traffic safety laws is prohibited by the state.

  12. The easiest and cheapest way to enforce the speeding laws is to let a computer do it, measure the speed and take picture of the license-plate of the offender, then send them a ticket.

  13. blurondo says:

    Wisconsin’s laws make it illegal to operate a vehicle in a manner that is reckless, that shows disregard for people or property, or that may cause people to be injured or killed.
    What’s happening today is really reckless driving. In spite of Deon’s belief that he is free to ignore the law and impose his behavior on others, the victims of these violations deserve the protections of enforcement to the full extent of the law.

  14. Justin says:

    Dangerous driving in general is now one of the city’s more serious issues. There was a well written article on this site in 2015 that explains why the enforcement has dropped so significantly Essentially, it is stating that the poor were not paying their traffic violations and being jailed as a result. The city’s response was to stop issuing as many tickets. Perhaps a noble cause, but the consequences are certainly taking effect. Article below:

  15. PG1946 says:

    @SnowBeer: Speed does kill, especially in residential areas and other areas where there are pedestrians crossing the street. The faster you drive, the more distance you need to come to a complete stop. especially if you are texting or otherwise diverting your attention to your mobile device, as all too many drivers continue to do Do you think that a reduced police presence would not reduce the frequency of hit-and-run fatalities, which are a form of vehicular homicide?

    @Devin: You are correct that distracted driving is a menace to life and health. Speeding and distracted driving, however, often go hand in hand, as the phoning/texting driver’s attention is distracted from the speedometer, the weight of the foot on the accelerator pedal, and the speed of passing cars and surroundings. This is not an either-or situation

    @WCD: Let me add to Sam’s comment. I gather that you would not permit your wife to avail herself of Brewers and Bucks games, the MSO and MAM, the Lakefront, professional theater and artist performances at the Riverside/Pabst/Milwaukee Theater/Marcus Center or sailing from the McKinley or South Shore marinas. All of these are well to the east of 92nd. Street. My sympathies to your long-suffering wife.
    You say that “Mark is right, Car Jacking, speeding is the watchword of Milwaukee.” Where does Ald. Borkowski mention carjacking? He’s talking about a failure to enforce the laws against vehicular speeding. And carjacking as the “watchword” of Milwaukee? Get real! By the way, Mr. Borkowski takes pains to present the speeding problem a metropolitan one, not merely the City of Milwaukee: “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.” Those municipalities include those in the so-called WOW counties (Waukeshau-Ozaukee-Washington), well to the west of 92nd St In reading your comments here and elsewhere, I get the impression that you hate the City of Milwaukee,implying that it is inhabited mainly by criminals and reprobates–with a heavy implication that they are all non-Caucasians This is an insult to those of us who live in the city and its immediately surrounding communities, who live honorable lives and have built a pretty nice pklace to live, even with too may drivers who exceed the speed limit

  16. Vincent Hanna says:

    So if a machine enforces speeding does everyone who goes 26mph in a 25 get a ticket?

  17. Tim says:

    Tom, do you really think that State of WI cares about traffic deaths in Milwaukee? They’d need to change the law, will you hold your breath?

    (a) In this subsection, “photo radar speed detection” means the detection of a vehicle’s speed by use of a radar device combined with photographic identification of the vehicle.
    (b) Notwithstanding sub. (1), the state and local authorities may not use photo radar speed detection to determine compliance with any speed restriction imposed by s. 346.57, 346.58, 346.59, 346.595 or 349.11 or a local ordinance in conformity therewith.
    History: 1971 c. 277; 1987 a. 34, 399; 1991 a. 39, 269; 1993 a. 246; 1995 a. 113, 201, 448; 1999 a. 90; 1999 a. 150 s. 672; 2003 a. 193; 2005 a. 116.

  18. Tim says:

    Vincent Hanna: In Iowa, you need to be going at least 12mph over the limit to get cited by a speed camera.

    The tickets issued by speed cameras don’t subtract points from your license. I believe it’s because they can’t be 100% certain who was driving, it’s more like a parking ticket.

  19. Kurt Holzhauer says:

    thank you. our neighborhood has tried to address this issue(speeding) for three decades. no help at all from the city. Also the total lack of common sense civility driving, i.e.: no turn signals, running RED lights, refusing to clean snow/ice off of ALL windows, mirrors, and all lights on vehicles, and finally a total disregard for all posted traffic rules, laws, and regs makes driving, motorcycling, biking and walking totally frightening activities. And lets remeber inattentive driving/walking CELLPHONES.

    Kurt R. Holzhauer

  20. Jackson Ridgeway says:

    I see people running red lights everyday. Today someone sped up on a redlight, sideswiped the car in front of me and turned right across traffic. No license plate and did not stop. Getting dangerous out there.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us