The recent 2023-2025 Wisconsin state budget proposal unveiled by Governor Tony Evers (D) (above) includes a $60 million commitment to re-engineer roads to improve safety for all road users, $6.5 million for driver education programs, and funding for 45 additional Wisconsin State Patrol troopers and inspectors.
[Above photo by the Wisconsin Governor’s Office]
Specifically, that $60 million in road funding will fund traffic calming grants to construct traffic circles, pedestrian islands, bump-outs at crosswalks, and other treatments that slow vehicle traffic, making conditions safer for bikers and pedestrians. It will also add roadway design considerations into state law that “complete streets,” empowering local communities to safely integrate all modes of transportation.
In addition to that funding commitment, the governor is planning to send 20 percent of the state’s sales tax back to local communities for shared revenue, making approximately $250 million available in public safety aid specifically to support law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services, as well as courts and district attorneys’ offices.
In a statement, the governor added that his plan also aims strengthen reckless and drunk driving penalties.
“It has to stop. Reckless driving on our roads is affecting Wisconsinites across our state, whether it’s excessive speeding, running red lights, tailgating, operating under the influence, or other dangerous behavior,” he explained.
“Folks should be able to feel safe in their homes, in our neighborhoods, and on our streets, roads, and highways,” Gov. Evers noted.
“These initiatives will continue building on our work to keep our kids, our families, and our communities safe by taking a statewide, multi-pronged approach to urgently addressing reckless driving and dangerous behavior on our roads,” he said.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, approximately 2,900 people are injured by reckless drivers annually statewide, while 119 died in 2022 as the result of reckless driving, the agency said.
Reckless driving can include driving behaviors such as speeding, improper lane changes, and inattentive, erratic, or negligent driving. In addition, nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin’s licensed drivers have at least one conviction for operating while intoxicated, the agency noted.
“We applaud Governor Evers for his leadership to tackle the significant issue of reckless driving,” Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson said in a separate statement.
“We are committed to working with our partners across all levels of government, in every corner of the state, to keep people safer on our roads. Together with community members we can prevent the tragedies that result from reckless driving,” he added.