Traffic safety is an issue for every man, woman and child

By Chief Tim Zarzecki

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 8:55 PM CDT

Driving a motor vehicle is the most dangerous activity that most Americans will engage in regularly during their lifetime.

Think about that for a minute ... out of every 84 children born this year, during their lifetime:

-- One will die violently in a traffic crash.

-- 50 will suffer injury in a traffic crash.

Traffic crashes are the most common cause of workplace injuries and death in the United States. They cost employers over $31 billion a year in lost productivity, legal expenses and property damage. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 34.

There are three main violations that contribute to motor vehicle crashes in our state: Seat belts; impaired driving; and speed. As far as seat belt usage, only 73 percent of Wisconsin residents buckle up, although the national average is 83 percent-plus. The rate of buckling up for teen drivers is about 66 percent. Alcohol was reported in 40 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008; Speed was reportedly involved in 187 of the 587 fatalities in 2008. Another factor that contributes to crashes is distracted driving (cell phones — talking or texting, computers, GPS, etc.).

The members of the Mount Pleasant Police Department are committed to the goal of reducing the number of traffic crashes, hopefully resulting in fewer injuries and deaths on our roadways, not to mention lost time at work and extensive costs of property damage. Traffic enforcement is one of the tools our police officers use toward that goal. Another tool is education. We hold inspections several times each year to educate people on the proper use and installation of child safety seats. These inspections are made possible through the partnerships and cooperation of Safe Kids Coalition and Johnson Insurance.

To further our commitment to making our roads safer, the Mount Pleasant Police Department, like other departments, has formed a partnership with the State of Wisconsin — Bureau of Transportation Safety. This partnership has resulted in the police department receiving $38,000 in traffic grant funding this year. The funding is to address speed, alcohol and safety belt use enforcement in the hopes that it will reduce motor vehicle accidents and ultimately reduce injuries and save lives.

The Police Department receives daily complaints of people driving too fast, distracted driving and reckless driving. Many times, complaints are for a certain neighborhood or area during rush hour traffic periods.

These complaints allow us to concentrate our traffic enforcement efforts to areas that need it the most. It seems everyone is in a hurry today and the thought is that lost time can be made up in the car while we are en route to our destinations.

Please keep yourself from becoming a statistic. We need the community to partner with us in our traffic safety efforts as well by remembering to buckle up, use child safety seats, stay attentive, drive sober and follow the posted speed limits. Hopefully, by doing this we can make the roads safer for all of us.

Tim Zarzecki is chief of police for the Village of Mount Pleasant.