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Combating reckless driving using Milwaukee's new billboards, public traffic data

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 18:46:34-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police announced Monday an educational component to their fight against reckless driving.

The problem is all too familiar for people who live and work in the city.

"People are running lights and it’s tragic what’s happening to kids that have been hit and killed. It’s reckless. It’s very reckless," said Carol Bedford, who has lived in Milwaukee for decades.

"Sometimes on the freeway people flying just way over the speed limit passing through. It’s always an issue," said Nathan Bayer, who works in the city.

Thanks to an unidentified Wisconsin business, new billboards in English and Spanish have gone up across Milwaukee, encouraging people to report cases of reckless driving. The signs include a web address for the department's new Traffic Safety Unit, where residents can file a complaint.

Poster image - 2021-06-14T174013.088.jpg

"Community and unity is vital, so the more people who are paying attention, willing to report things, I think that's a good option," Bedford said.

"I think it's important for us to understand that we have to do our part to message that and be able to be proactive about it," said Jeffrey Norman, Milwaukee's acting police chief.

Jeffrey Norman
Jeffrey Norman

MPD has also begun making data from the Traffic Safety Unit publicly available on its website.

The most recent data showed from late February through last Sunday, the TSU issued 9,041 citations, with more than half for speeding. Drivers who were cited were often clocked at 15-24 miles over the speed limit.

MPD said it will continue to offer steering wheel clubs to deter thieves. Leaders noted stolen cars are often tied to reckless driving cases.

So far this year, police report a nearly 200 percent increase in car thefts compared to the same time frame in 2020. This year's number of motor vehicle thefts has already surpassed all of 2019.

"We've all seen it. We've seen people running lights. We've seen people passing on the right. We've seen people driving recklessly and they're doing so oftentimes in vehicles that are not their own," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

City leaders know education is only part of the solution. They stressed that enforcement, engineering and better accountability need to be included too.

To see the TSU data or report reckless driving incidents, head to mpdtsu.org.

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