MILWAUKEE — The deadliest 100 days on the road are about to start. It is the time period from Memorial Day through Labor Day. With the increase of drunk driving, one mother wants you to consider what you should do before you get behind the wheel.
Three years ago, during a trip to northern Wisconsin, Austin Lockwood was killed by a friend who was driving drunk. His mother Sheila Lockwood was woken up that terrible morning when two police officers came to her door.
"They said, 'We need you to sit down.' And I'm like, 'I don't want to sit down. What's going on? Why are you here?' And they said my son Austin was in a crash and he wasn't coming home,” said Sheila, fighting back tears.
That crash happened on June 10, 2018. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the summer months are a particularly deadly time to be on the road. You are two times more likely to be involved in a crash with an impaired driver during that time. Since the pandemic began, those numbers have only gone up.
“In terms of year-to-year increase in traffic fallacies, it is going to be one of the worst years in 96 years,” said Frank Harris from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.
Even with fewer people on the roads during the pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says 167 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2020. That is up 19 percent from the year before. It Is a statistic Shelia wants to change.
"I have been trying to fight for better laws in Wisconsin,” said Shelia.
TMJ4’s Project Drive Sober was there with her as she watched Gov. Tony Evers sign a law requiring a minimum five-year sentence if you kill someone while driving drunk. Last year, Wisconsin also passed a mandatory minimum of 18 months behind bars for 5th and 6th operating while intoxicated offenders.
Sheila says you can enjoy the unofficial start to summer this weekend, but do it responsibly.
"Celebrate, have a great time, but make sure you aren't driving - you don't have your keys,” said Lockwood of people who are above the legal Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration limit.