MILWAUKEE — To stem rising reckless driving in the city, the Milwaukee Police Department is launching a new task force, the Traffic Safety Unit, to crack down on driving-related offenses and ultimately save lives.
The statistics are startling. The police department tracked a 51 percent spike in fatal crashes from 2019 (51 deaths) to 2020 (77 deaths). And it recorded a 23 percent increase in reckless driving-related citations from 2019 (14,324 citations) to 2020 (17,612 citations).
Beyond the numbers, reckless driving has torn families apart, overwhelmed city services and enraged commuters and residents.
That is especially true on Milwaukee's deadliest road: 27th Street. As TMJ4 News' Rebecca Klopf reported last month, reckless driving on that road has claimed the lives of a dozen people just in 2020. The roadway runs from the north side of the city to the south side.
After that is Fond Du Lac with seven deaths from crashes, followed by Center Street with six fatalities. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says of the 88 deaths in crashes in Milwaukee, a third happened on one of those streets.
The main factor behind a majority of those crashes was speed.
The police department says the Traffic Safety Unit will crack down on reckless driving in a number of ways, police and city leaders announced during a press conference on Wednesday.
Acting MPD Chief Jeffrey Norman outlined that effort as:
- Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety
- Coordination with officers deployed for Reckless Driving
- Reduction Initiative (RDRI)
- A traffic management control center
- Traffic safety speed boards & message boards
- Focus on individuals engaged in reckless driving behavior
- 3 E’s - TSU is committed to a community partnership with the hoal of creating a safer Milwaukee by enforcing traffic laws (Enforcement), educating and partnering with the community in solving traffic problems (Education), and recommending traffic-engineering changes (Engineering).
“The goal of the Traffic Safety Unit is to make the roads in the City of Milwaukee safer to travel on by targeting motorists that are engaged in reckless driving. I am asking for collaboration from the members of our community to be part of the solution by reporting reckless driving directly to the Traffic Safety Unit website. The Milwaukee Police Department is committed to working with our community and system partners to continue to build sustainable neighborhoods free of crime that are built on positive relationships,” said Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman.