Justice Department working to keep state roads safe

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J.B. Van Hollen
Thursday, September 1, 2011
— The unofficial end of summer is here, and Wisconsinites are preparing to head back to schoolóand to hit the roads as they enjoy time with family and friends this Labor Day weekend.

The American Automobile Association expects more than 660,000 people in our fine state to travel for the holiday.

As your attorney general, public safety always has been my top priority, and that mission includes keeping Wisconsin families safe on our roadways. Effective, aggressive enforcement and prosecution are critical to deterring people from driving impaired and thereby putting your family at risk.

The number of traffic deaths in Wisconsin has decreased to fewer than 600 for the third consecutive year, but holiday weekends serve as an opportunity to remind all of us what we can do to travel safely.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that every year nearly 12,000 people die on our nationís roads as a result of impaired driving. And nowadays, impaired driving means more than drunken driving. Law enforcement officers report more cases of impaired driving due to substances other than alcohol, such as heroin or prescription medications.

And, as officers work to track down impaired drivers, itís up to all of us to avoid distracted driving.

In our gadget-rich environment, many of us have cellphones at our fingertips. Texting and driving is against the law in Wisconsin, and while inattentive driving can take many shapes, texting is considered by experts to be especially dangerous because it takes our hands off of the wheel, and our eyes and mind off of the road.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into injury crashes. So lead by example for our youngest of drivers and put down the electronic device as you hit the road.

Your familyís safety is a priority at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, where our crime lab system processes blood samples from the felony impaired driving cases in Wisconsin.

And, through the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor program, we are working to promote awareness and training in the investigation and prosecution of vehicular crimes. In September, the DOJ will sponsor 2Ĺ days worth of training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors, devoted entirely to vehicular cases.

This long weekend, letís all do our part to make Wisconsin roadways safe. Donít drink and drive, pay attention and wear your seat belt, and remember those on the front linesóthe law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to protect ours. Thank you.

J.B. Van Hollen is Wisconsinís elected attorney general. You can reach him at the state Department of Justice, P.O. Box 7857, Madison, WI 53707-7857; website www.doj.state.wi.us; phone phone (608) 266-1221.

Last updated: 6:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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