Posted at 12:48 p.m. on May 4, 2017
The Brillion News
MENASHA – The Wisconsin State Patrol and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up to target bad driving behaviors in the State 441 Tri-County Expressway Expansion Project work zone in Winnebago County.
The law enforcement agencies will significantly increase enforcement Tuesday, May 9, on portions of I-41, U.S. 10 and State 441 under construction in the Fox Cities.
Numerous state troopers and sheriff’s deputies will be looking for, and ticketing, traffic law violators, aggressive drivers, speeders, tailgaters, and especially, distracted drivers on May 9.
“Our construction crews are seeing a disturbing trend of drivers in the WIS 441 work zone not paying attention to the only thing they should be doing – driving,” said WSP Sergeant Tim McGrath. “We are seeing more crashes now that construction has ramped up for the season. Bad driver behavior is directly responsible for the majority of crashes.”
WCSO Lieutenant Lori Seiler said drivers using cell phones continue to be a key cause of crashes.
A new law in Wisconsin makes it illegal to talk on a handheld mobile device while driving in a work zone.
She said following the new law is simple: See orange cones – put down the phones.
The two police agencies said is a driver is observed talking or texting on a hand-held device in a work zone, he or she will be ticketed and receive a fine,
“This is where I live. This is where my friends and family work, and this is where law-abiding motorists I’m tasked with protecting travel every day,” Seiler said. “Unfortunately, bad driving behaviors are putting their lives at risk. Distracted or aggressive driving is deadly, prevalent, expensive and entirely preventable.”
Reported work zone crashes in Winnebago County went from 76 in 2014, to 245 in 2015 and 239 in 2016. Statewide, there have been more than 2,000 work zone crashes in each of the last three years, including more than 2,800 in 2016 – an average of more than seven each day. In 2016, work zone crashes caused nine fatalities and 1,110 injuries in Wisconsin.
“We want motorists to be conscious of their behavior while driving their vehicles,” McGrath said. “A lot can happen – fast – even at a reduced speed in a work zone, so it’s very important to eliminate distractions, slow down and avoid tailgating. If it takes writing 200 tickets to get that point across, then that’s what we’ll do.”
The State Patrol and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department are announcing the special enforcement effort in advance to the public as an educational measure and encourage voluntary compliance.
The State 441 Tri-County Project contracts with the Wisconsin State Patrol to provide extra law enforcement presence in the work zone. Drivers ticketed in the work zone will see their fine double.
For more on work zone safety, please see the WisDOT work zone website at: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safety/education/workzone/default.aspx