Greg Peck: Watching your Interstate speed
My buddies and I were driving down the Interstate between Eau Claire and Madison on Saturday, returning from our Canadian fishing trip, when we noticed it. Wisconsin State Patrol cars were everywhere, and many had motorists pulled over.
At one turnaround spot, we saw five patrol vehicles lined up, each awaiting a turn to pursue a lead-footed motorist. It was a startling display, and we guessed they might be using an airplane to catch speeders. Just down the road, two squad cars had drivers stopped.
On Monday, the Wisconsin Transportation Department issued a good report on July traffic fatalities. Just 39 people died in crashes last month, the second-lowest number for any July since the state started compiling monthly statistics in 1937. The lowest total came in 1943, when just 34 motorists died. In contrast, the deadliest months of July occurred in 1966 and 1971, when 140 people died each year.
Of course, last month's good report provides no comfort if a loved one in your family had the misfortune of being part of those statistics. My sympathies to you.
August, in turn, is traditionally the deadliest month on Wisconsin roads. We've averaged 62 deaths in each of the last five years. That's why the State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies teamed up to start the month with the Interstate 90/94 Challenge, which began Friday and lasted through Monday. I learned about the enforcement project when I got home this weekend and read a story in Thursday's Gazette. The effort included “significantly more troopers” and, yes, using planes. Troopers wanted motorists to slow down, pay attention, drive sober and wear seat belts.
Gosh, my buddies and I noticed. We were looking forward to getting home after an enjoyable trip, but it's a good thing we weren't pushing our return too quickly.