By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
This past Tuesday, Oct.17, 2017, Representative David Crowley announced the Safe Roads Save Lives Act to combat the reckless driving on Milwaukee’s streets, which has resulted in numerous injuries and fatalities over the years. The act will introduce new technology onto the streets of Milwaukee.
Earlier this month, a 27-year-old woman and her 11-month old daughter were killed when a man drove through a red light. A week after the incident, Northwest Side Community of Development Corporation (NWSCDC) organized a “Rally for Safe Streets.” Now, two weeks later, the city is considering alternative ways to ensure the safety of the streets.
“It’s important that we give our police department the tools they need to combat reckless driving,” Crowley said.
Although, Crowley understands that the actions taken will not stop reckless drivers, but he hopes it will deter them. To implement the act everyone must get involved. Co-sponsorship began Oct. 18 and it will conclude on Nov. 3. During that time, Crowley, in addition to members of the Milwaukee Common Council, hope that it’ll gain enough support. Should the bipartisan legislation pass, Milwaukee will begin a five-year pilot program that allows the city access to the “proper tools.”
The program will allow for new technology to be used, including red-light cameras. As the name suggests, cameras will be installed at “priority intersections,” which have been determined based on Wisconsin DOT data. If a driver exceeds the speed limit by 20 mph, the camera snaps a picture and the offender will receive a ticket.
Although Milwaukee resident Toni Wagner, feels the limit is too high, Crowley stated this is to ensure citizens don’t feel targeted.
Crowley estimated that approximately 35 cameras will be installed, and that tickets will range in cost from $50 to $100. The cameras will be installed with a company, which hasn’t been selected at this point, and the cost will be offset by the tickets.
“We know it won’t stop people from speeding,” said Crowley. “But we hope that they think twice.”
In addition to Representative Crowley, Alderman Khalif Rainey and Alderman Chevy Johnson also supported the act.
Rainey expressed his own reluctance when it came to driving on Milwaukee’s roads, due to what he calls “red light roulette.” It’s a fear he experiences every day when he takes his children to school.
“It’s an issue we can resolve ourselves as a community,” said Rainey.
Alderman Johnson commented likewise and noted it’s a part of his campaign. Like Rainey, Johnson is accustomed to seeing people speed. On his way to City Hall, he saw several cars run red lights at what he called, “breakneck speeds.”
According to Crowley, traffic-related fatalities have increased by 73% over the past eight years in Milwaukee, but the amount of traffic citations has decreased by 60%. By installing an automated speed enforcement system (ASES), Crowley hopes to make up for the lack of police officers, due to budget cuts and retirement.
Lieutenant Derrick Harris is in favor of incorporating the new technology. According to him, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is looking at different ways to educate Milwaukee youth on driving. He hopes with ASES that fatalities will decrease.
Howard Snyder executive director of NWSCDC and organizer of “Rally for Safe Streets” said, “I think that anything that sends a message is a good thing.”
Wisconsin Bike Federation member, Jake Newborn also stated his approval but noted that safer roads begin with the individual.
More information will be released if the legislation passes until then officials implore for safe driving.