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Evaluating traffic enforcement as Madison PD says to expect more patrol

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Drivers can expect more patrol on weekends this summer, the Madison Police Department says, in an effort to enforce speed rules and, in the long run, eliminate traffic deaths.

“Small reductions in speed result in exponential improvements in overall survivability of those crashes,” Tony Fiore, a lieutenant in MPD’s traffic section, said.

On Tuesday, Fiore said officers stopped three cars going at least 20 miles per hour over the speed limit along East Washington Avenue.

“It’s hard evaluate it on a weekly basis in terms of ‘if we do extra enforcement, do we immediately see a decrease in speeds?’” Lt. Fiore said. “But what I can tell you is that we’re trying to be visible, to send that signal for folks that we are out there doing enforcement.”

The city has dealt with problems along East Washington Ave. before. Last fall, it lowered the speed limit for a big stretch of the road. But since May, Lt. Fiore said roughly a quarter of all city citations and warnings have traced back to the street.

Speed enforcement in Madison
Speed enforcement in Madison(WMTV/Michelle Baik)

This year, East Washington Ave. has been the site of four fatal crashes, though officials haven’t confirmed speed as a contributing factor for all the incidents.

Last year, MPD said there were a total of 15 fatal crashes, setting a record high for the department since it started collecting the data in 2007. So far this year, there have been seven fatal crashes.

Due to an ongoing investigation, the department did not confirm that speed was the contributor factor for these crashes. But, in general, Lt. Fiore said speed is a major reason for car crashes.

“We’re not going to enforce our way out of this problem,” Lt. Fiore said. “Education and engineering are all going to play equal parts.”

The City of Madison has committed to Vision Zero, an attempt to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries on city streets by 2030.

“To save lives is the motivation for our speed reduction projects,” Yang Thao, the city traffic engineer, said.

Wednesday morning, city engineers brought down the speed limit along Atwood Avenue on Madison’s east side.

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According to Thao, the traffic division currently has nine speed reduction projects on six different arterial streets for the year, and a few more are under consideration.

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