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AAA: Deaths from drivers running red lights reach 10-year high

Posted at 6:31 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 20:22:02-04

MILWAUKEE — The number of people killed by reckless drivers running red lights has hit a 10-year high across the country. The increase has been the worst in Wisconsin than anywhere else, according to AAA.

The Auto Club Group has partnered with Take It EZ Milwaukee, a pilot program aimed at cracking down on reckless driving.

AAA reported more than two people are killed every day by reckless drivers running red lights across the country. In 2017, they found 939 people were killed; 22 of them were in Wisconsin.

"The fact that in 10 years the number of people in this nation has died from red light running has risen 31% underscores why this is an issue that our communities and our nation has to deal with. Of course, we're concerned here in Milwaukee," said Mayor Tom Barrett.

In 2017, there were two notable cases in Milwaukee. One was at Muskego and Becher when a person was killed after a driver blew through a red light. At 35th and Capitol, a woman and her baby were hit and killed when police said a driver ignored a red light.

AAA is distributing magnets with the Take It EZ Milwaukee sign to bring awareness to reckless driving.

The three-month pilot program zeroes in on four of the city's worst intersections with police patrols and public information campaigns.

One of the intersections is 35th and National, where people who live and work nearby say they need help.

"Driving here is just chaos. It is total chaos," said Dennis Hatten, a veteran who relies on a bike to get to the VA. Hatten said when he's on his bike he stays alert because he knows drivers are not paying attention.

"Every time I come to an intersection in Milwaukee I'm nervous and anxious because people are in a hurry to go where? Nowhere. You'll get there. Just drive safe at a safe speed and just be mindful and courteous to people," said Hatten.

"It's sad because usually they say it's young people, but now it's everyone is rushing to get from point A to point B," said Roberto Martinez, manager at Chicken Palace, which is located near the intersection.

"Driving here is just chaos. It is total chaos." — Dennis Hatten, a veteran who relies on a bike to get to the VA.

Martinez said they see their fair share of crashes and bad drivers. A couple of weeks ago police increased patrols. Martinez said he noticed a difference. He hopes the increased patrols return to deter reckless driving.

Milwaukee Police said they plan to release data on the program's impact later.