It’s no secret. Milwaukee has a problem…a bad problem. Reckless driving has cost the city a lot. Lives, Money, Time.
As of November of last year, there had been 44 deadly crashes and 8 of those were hit-and-run. Obviously, those statistics don’t really reflect the true cost that driving reckless has, affecting not just the victims but the families and friends of the victims. The lives of innocent people are at stake and Milwaukee is looking for ways to tackle the problem.
“It gets to two areas that I think have an impact,” said Alderman Michael Murphy, who is heading up the Task Force on Carjacking and Reckless Driving.
“One, for many years Milwaukee Public Schools stopped providing free drivers education for their students, and I think that led to a population which never really obtained legally, their drivers license or really learned how to properly drive. Secondarily, I think the chase policy that was instituted by Chief Flynn had unintended consequences. By not chasing people, it created a culture and climate of where certain drivers just felt there was no accountability or control out there.”
It’s amazing the number of solutions the community has suggested. They had nearly 70 or 80 suggestions from area residents on how they should address the problem.
These suggestions were collected by the Task Force and that task force is part of an over-all 3 pronged approach. What they’re calling the 3 E’s: ” Education, Enforcement and Engineering.”
Traffic Engineer for the City of Green Bay David Hansen explains all three prongs need to work together.
“You have your engineering, you have your enforcement and your education components that are really used to try to solve traffic speeding and behavioral issues,” says Hansen.
“So once you reduce one of those, the others kind of have to step up to the plate and that doesn’t always work. You kind of really need all three to truly, effectively manage traffic speeds.”
As usual, money is going to be the main obstacle of implementing most of these suggestions. So where’s the money coming from?
“I put a budget amendment into this year’s city budget to allocate additional resources just for this issue,” Alderman Murphy says.
“In addition, we allocated a special account just for money that may be used to implement some of the community-suggested ideas. But I think we have to recognize finding additional resources both privately, maybe leveraging some of our public dollars will be really important.”
So what’s it going to take to make our roads safer?
“When you look at this problem, it has to be attacked from a multi-directional, multi-strategic direction,” explains Alderman Murphy.
“We know changing behavior certainly can be done through accountability but certainly other changes as engineering solutions and prevention and education can also assist in that effort.”
So the reckless driving problem we have here is a product of many actions that unfortunately had unintended consequences. Schools saving money by not offering drivers ed, contributed to unlicensed and uneducated drivers, The police back in the day adopting a no-chase policy contributed to a culture of no-accountability in the greater public.
It is hard to change behaviors, and it’s not going happen overnight; after all, we didn’t get here overnight either.
Hopefully with a multi-faceted approach, we will start seeing a change for the better.