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Editorial: A safety 'heads-up' to motorists

DMV photo.

How can motorists make this a "Summer of Safety"? The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) believes the answer's in an array of initiatives. The goal is to reduce the risk of motorists killing and injuring themselves and others by improving traffic safety enforcement, education and engineering. Ultimately, authorities hope to achieve "Zero in Wisconsin" when it comes to preventable traffic deaths.

Drivers should take notice of the following:

--Motorcycle safety. The Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program will hit the road this summer with THE REF (Transportable High-End Rider Education Facility) to reach out to the motorcycling community and the general motoring public. The program emphasizes motorists need to share the roadways and watch for motorcycles, especially at intersections and while making lane changes. Motorcyclists must obey all traffic laws, never ride while impaired, wear conspicuous and protective gear and clothing, including a DOT-approved helmet and keep their riding skills sharp through life-long rider training.

--Summer heat and speed enforcement. During the mobilization, the DOT will provide federal grants to local law enforcement agencies to combat speeding.

--Aerial speed enforcement. The State Patrol's Air Support Unit will monitor traffic speeds. Support is focused on reducing excessive speed, aggressive driving and following too closely.

--OWI task forces. The DOT is working closely with local law enforcement to deploy Operating While Intoxicated enforcement details. These are often targeted in entertainment districts or during times known for celebrations.

--Crackdown on drunken driving. To prevent the devastation and death caused by drunken drivers, people ultimately need to change their behavior and decision-making. First and foremost, drivers must take personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others. They can designate a sober driver before drinking, take a cab or find another way home from a bar or party. Everyone must be courageous enough to stop a friend or loved one who's impaired by alcohol or other drugs from getting behind the wheel. Parents need to set a good example for their own children and teens by always driving sober.

--Child passenger safety seats. The DOT has produced a 12-minute instructional video providing information on the legal requirements for child passenger safety in Wisconsin. The video also provides other resources and "best practices" toward properly securing children in vehicles to keep them safe.

--Rumble strips. To be installed on about 500 miles of two-lane rural roadways, the strips are intended to serve in reducing the number and severity of roadway departure crashes. They assist motorists while driving during inclement weather conditions such as fog, snow or heavy rain obscuring roadways, and aid snowplows and assist drivers who may unintentionally stray when visibility is poor.

--Roadway improvements. In corridors with significant crash/safety concerns, the measures include installing wider pavement markings, improving traffic signal timing to enhance traffic flow, installing dynamic curve warning signs and doing pavement patching to minimize debris and loose pavement which can impact motorcyclists, bicyclists and other travelers.

--Road safety audits. These audits provide a comprehensive examination of a future or existing roadway in which an independent, qualified auditor reviews and reports on safety issues.

--Traffic safety messages. Pop-up and banner safety messages will appear on the Division of Motor Vehicles web pages. Safe driving messages will be promoted prior to the peak summer holiday periods. Safe and sober driving will be the focus of messages at various minor league baseball stadiums around the state. The DOT is partnering with AT&T and AAA Wisconsin to provide presentations at high schools around the state to educate students on the dangers of texting while driving.