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African Americans, Latinos at Greater Risk in Traffic Crashes

Originally Released: October 23, 2023.

It’s a Dane County fact. African Americans and Latinos are at greater risk of dying or suffering serious injuries in traffic crashes.

To improve driver and pedestrian safety in communities of color, the Dane County Traffic Safety Commission (TSC), in partnership with Safe Communities of Madison-Dane
County, has begun a new yard sign campaign reminding all motorists to drive more
safely in neighborhoods. Cropping up around Madison and surrounding communities this week are yard signs depicting a young child, on one side cautioning drivers, “I Am Loved: Please Slow Down” and on the other side, “You Are Loved! Please Buckle Up.” Signs are in both English and Spanish. Madison artist, author, educator, and non-profit leader Lilada Gee created the sign graphic.

Cheryl Wittke, TSC co-chair and executive director of Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County, said that in the most recent quarter monitored by the Traffic Safety Commission, over half of traffic crash fatalities involved African Americans, Latinos or Asians.

“In 2023, we’re seeing an acceleration of a trend we have found in recent years,” she said. “In 2022, people of color accounted for 31% of all injuries and fatalities in the county, while representing 21.7% of the population.” Wittke said these numbers include not just drivers but also passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians struck by vehicles.

“Every crash has the potential of changing lives and families forever,” said Itina Johnson, African American Opioid Coalition and Traffic Safety Project Coordinator with Safe Communities. “These signs are just one step we all can take to keep this issue in front of motorists. It’s not just about people of color. These signs are good words of advice to keep everyone safer in and around our county roadways.”

Wittke said the signs are being introduced now for the added benefit of keeping children and families safer as an increased number of people walk neighborhoods at Halloween.

“Halloween nationally is one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities,” Wittke said. “The CDC estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on
Halloween than any other day of the year.”

Community organizations are helping distribute the yard signs. These include the Urban League, Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Reach Dane, Common Wealth Development, African American Council of Churches, Catholic Multicultural Center, Madison Police Amigos en Azul, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – Kappa Psi Omega Chapter, Northside Planning Council, Safe Kids Madison Area, Neighborhood Navigators of Sun Prairie, and Sun Prairie Police.

Teran Peterson, Neighborhood Navigators Program Manager for the City of Sun Prairie, said this sign program fits perfectly with their work. “We emphasize outreach activities targeted to community needs. Keeping our residents and neighborhoods safe is a major focus,” she said.

“We’re placing the signs in the yards of businesses, churches, private homes and apartment complexes,” Johnson said. “We’re working especially hard to get the signs out in neighborhoods frequented by people of color.”

TSC Member and AAA Wisconsin Director of Public Affairs Nick Jarmusz offered the following additional AAA top tips for safer neighborhood driving at Halloween:

  • Designate a navigator. If you need to check a map, take pictures, or do anything that will take your attention off the road, pull over or delegate those tasks to a passenger.
  • Remain seated and buckled. Everyone in the vehicle should remain seated and buckled at all times, even when parked on the side of the road.
  • Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who might dart into the street.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways and streets in dark costumes (harder to see at night).
  • Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Turn on your headlights to make your vehicle more visible.
  • Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right.

For trick-or-treaters, AAA recommends:

  • Be bright at night: wear light-colored clothing or costumes to improve visibility to motorists and others. If unavailable, use reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets.
  • Wear disguises that don’t obstruct vision. Avoid facemasks.
  • Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury.
  • Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible (always walk facing traffic and stay as far to the left of the roadway as possible).
  • Don’t walk distracted. Save the social media updates for before or after you go trick-or-treating. Avoid checking your phone while walking or supervising children.


other news

Officials Issue Reminder to Buckle Up

The Dane County Traffic Safety Commission (TSC) is urging drivers to buckle up ahead of a county-wide education and enforcement

Injuries and Fatalities Up Among Older Drivers

In 2023, Dane County saw an increase in serious injuries and deaths of older drivers involved in traffic crashes. Seriously

236 Citations Issued in Dane County Impaired Driving Campaign

Originally Released: January 22, 2024.   Two hundred thirty-six drivers were cited for traffic violations during a December two-day crackdown


getting involved

The partnerships built by Safe Communities have created a safer community, with more opportunities for education and awareness. We continue to envision a safer future for the people who live in Madison and Dane County, with instances of unnecessary deaths and serious injuries are infrequent, rather than a daily occurrence.


Treatment Key

Safe communities has complied a list of abbreviation definitions for finding the right treatment for you.

MAT: Medication for Addiction Treatment.
OP: Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends. individual and group therapy, these can include or not include MAT.
IOP: Intensive Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends individual and extended groups, 9-12 hours a week.
Residential: person lives at the facility for a period of at least 14 days, some last as many as 45 days.
PHP: Partial Hospitalization Program is a structured mental health treatment program that runs for several hours each day, three to five days per week.
DBT: Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that integrates mindfulness techniques.