Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Press Release

Drug-related traffic crashes in Wisconsin soar, Departments of Justice and Transportation co-sponsor new ads raising awareness

Last year, 149 people were killed in drug-related traffic crashes in Wisconsin

By - Dec 7th, 2016 11:19 am

Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Last year, 149 people were killed in drug-related traffic crashes in Wisconsin. This is a nearly a 200 percent increase over the previous decade, according to Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) statistics.

To help combat this deadly crisis, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and WisDOT have teamed up to produce new TV and radio public service announcements that warn of the dangers of drugged driving.

Premiered at a news conference in Madison today, the TV and radio messages are part of DOJ’s “Dose of Reality” campaign to combat prescription drug abuse and WisDOT’s “Zero In Wisconsin” effort to prevent traffic crashes. The ad, titled, “Drugged Driving,” compares the dangers of driving under the influence of prescription drugs to the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. The TV spot may be viewed on You Tube.

“The Dose of Reality campaign has been raising awareness about prescription drug abuse and correcting the myths surrounding this epidemic,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “The myth that prescription drugs are totally safe because they are prescribed by doctors is just not true. The dose of reality is driving under the influence of prescription drugs is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. I am grateful for the chance to team up with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and look forward to working together to prevent injuries and deaths on Wisconsin roads.”

WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb said, “In addition to illegal drugs, the overuse and abuse of prescription medications, especially when combined with alcohol, severely impairs driving ability and judgment. Drugged drivers are in grave danger of killing or injuring themselves and innocent victims. Law enforcement officers have extensive training and experience in identifying drivers impaired by alcohol and use many of those same procedures to identify drugged drivers. With our collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, we are striving to prevent drugged driving through effective education and enforcement efforts.”

DOJ and WisDOT advise everyone to be aware of the following points regarding prescription drug abuse and drugged driving:

  • The serious legal and financial penalties for a drugged driving arrest are the same as drunken driving arrests.
  • Do not mix drugs and alcohol.
  • Report impaired drivers to law enforcement by calling 911.
  • Take prescription medications only as prescribed to you.
  • Store prescription medications safely and securely.
  • Dispose of unused prescriptions properly and promptly.
  • Heed the warning labels on prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies about the drugs’ effects on driving.
  • Four out of five heroin addicts started with the abuse of prescription pain killers.
  • More than 70 percent of people abusing painkillers get them through friends or relatives.
  • Prescription painkillers are involved with more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

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Statewide crackdown on impaired drivers begins Friday, runs through New Year’s Day

WisDOT uses dedicated federal funds to help coordinate 24 OWI task forces across Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Traffic crashes claim 46 lives in Wisconsin last month

Through November of this year, 555 people have died in Wisconsin traffic crashes.

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