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2011 column image: 
2011 column title: 

The Department of Justice is Working to Keep Wisconsin Roadways Safe

2011 column date: 
Monday, August 29, 2011
2011 column text: 
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

MADISON — The un-official end of summer is here, with Wisconsinites preparing to head back to school – and to hit the roads as they enjoy time with family and friends this Labor Day weekend.

 

The American Automobile Association expects more than 660,000 people in our fine state to travel for the holiday.

 

As your Attorney General, public safety always has been my top priority, and that mission includes keeping Wisconsin families safe on our roadways. Effective, aggressive enforcement and prosecution are critical to deterring people from driving impaired and thereby putting your family at risk.

The number of traffic deaths in Wisconsin has decreased to fewer than 600 for the third consecutive year, but holiday weekends serve as an opportunity to remind all of us what we can do to travel safely.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says every year nearly 12,000 people die on our nation's roads as a result of impaired driving. And nowadays, impaired driving means more than “drunk” driving. Law enforcement officers report more cases of impaired driving due to substances other than alcohol, such as heroin or prescription medications.

 

And, as officers work to track down impaired drivers, it's up to all of us to avoid distracted driving.

 

In our gadget-rich environment, many of us have cell phones at our fingertips. Texting and driving is against the law in Wisconsin, and while inattentive driving can take many shapes, texting is considered by experts to be especially dangerous because it takes our hands off of the wheel, and our eyes and mind off of the road.

 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into injury crashes. So, lead by example for our youngest of drivers and put down the electronic device as you hit the road.

 

Your family's safety is a priority at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), where our crime lab system processes blood samples from the felony impaired driving cases in Wisconsin.

 

And, through the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor program, we are working to promote awareness and training in the investigation and prosecution of vehicular crimes. In September, the DOJ will sponsor two and a half days worth of training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors, devoted entirely to vehicular cases.

 

This long weekend, let's all do our part to make Wisconsin roadways safe. Don't drink and drive, pay attention and wear your seatbelt, and remember those on the front lines – the law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to protect ours. Thank you.