Travel safe when you hit the road this summer
Summertime is upon us. Schools are about to unleash the wrath, which we call our children, upon us for the next three months.
There really is no more exciting time to be a kid. The whole summer is in front of you. And that means endless possibilities for mischief … I mean fun. For many of us, it also means a summer road trip.
From all indicators, Wisconsin’s plethora of vacation oases will be teeming with families sharing some quality bonding time. Memorial Day weekend kicked off the summer traveling season with what AAA Wisconsin was estimating to be the most travelers on the road in a decade. Heading into the weekend, they predicted 780,804 cheeseheads would travel for the holiday weekend, with 662,645 of us driving.
I have incredible memories of my two brothers and me in the way (way) back of our wood-paneled blue station wagon, heading up to a cabin in Boulder Junction, Wis., aka “the funnest place on earth.” Although, I also remember my two older brothers finding out if it was possible to fit me in the storage compartment against my will, with my dad yelling “If I have to come back there …”
Luckily for all of you youngest children out there, we have become smarter over the years. Seatbelts are now mandatory.
In all seriousness, we have learned a lot about saving lives on our roadways since the time when I was shoved in that compartment. We’ve all heard the Wisconsin DOT commercials about ZERO in Wisconsin. Increased use of seatbelts, more information about distracted driving, and greater information and enforcement on impaired driving have saved lives that we will never be able to fully quantify.
In 2014, there were 498 fatalities on Wisconsin roads — marking the first time that number dropped below 500 since 1943. This year, however, those numbers are ticking back up a bit.
Transportation planners will tell you about the four E’s of traffic safety: education, enforcement, engineering, and encouragement.
Wisconsin has been doing its best in each of these areas to continue moving closer to the goal of zero deaths on our roadways. The one “E” where I would say we have fallen down a bit is in the engineering department. Not in the engineering itself — actually, quite the opposite. It’s our inability to get critical road projects done on many dangerous stretches in Wisconsin that will make it safer to travel, once completed, due to the improved engineering. Where we have completed projects it has worked; the most high-profile is the Marquette Interchange where accidents have been cut in half due to the improved engineering.
But that gets into the whole funding discussion and political debate which I have spent plenty of time in previous blogs wringing my hands about.
The other parts we can control. So when you head out with your family this summer, be safe. Buckle up, pay attention, and take your time. Your kids will ask, “Are we there yet?” either way.
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