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Signs and Increased Enforcement Remind Drivers to SLOW DOWN for Students

Originally Released: September 7th, 2023.

With schools in session, all Dane County law enforcement agencies are teaming up with each other, the Wisconsin State Patrol, area communities and the Dane County Traffic Safety Commission (TSC) to urge drivers to keep children and adolescents safe. The collaboration includes free SLOW DOWN yard signs for residents and businesses and increased surveillance
for speeding and other risky driving from September 11-15.

“We all see motorists speeding through neighborhoods, running stop signs, ignoring crosswalks, or driving while checking their phones,” said Matt Wagner, Cottage Grove Police lieutenant and co-chair of the TSC’s law enforcement subgroup. “Always dangerous behaviors, these are even more alarming when more kids are out walking, biking or skateboarding to and from school. Traffic can be especially congested around schools, and frustrated motorists are more likely to demonstrate unsafe driving behaviors.

“Kids may be crossing busy streets, learning routes to a new school, rushing to start the day or get home, looking at their phones, or chatting with friends. We have to watch out for their safety, even while parents warn them how to watch for inattentive drivers,” Lt. Wagner said.

“The SLOW DOWN signs are an ongoing reminder to look out for children and all pedestrians. Of course, people driving should exercise caution, regardless of whether they’re near a school or not. We hope reminders of safe driving practices during this especially critical start-of-school time will reduce traffic injuries and fatalities all year.”

The faster vehicles travel, the more likely crashes will occur, according to Cheryl Wittke, TSC co-chair and executive director of Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County. “Children are especially vulnerable because of their size and inexperience.” Wittke said that when a child is hit by a vehicle going 40 mph, 85% of crashes are fatal.

According to TSC member Rishelle Eithun, Pediatric Injury Prevention Manager at UW Health Kids, pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children 5 to 14 in the United States. Each year, nearly 900 children ages 14 and younger die from pedestrian injuries, and another 24,000 are injured in traffic-related crashes.

Eithun said, “It’s a significant problem, for example, based on what we have experienced at UW Health. In the last five years, 35 children and adolescents have been treated for injuries at UW Health hospitals as a result of a vehicle striking a pedestrian, and 16 from running into a bicycle. Injuries sustained in pedestrian crashes were far more severe. Nine of the injuries were “profound,” the most serious types of injuries, and two children died. The majority are teens: of those killed or injured, 51% were aged 12 to 17, 35% were 6-11 and 14% were five or younger.”

Eithun added that it’s not just a Madison problem. Eighty-four percent of the 51 injured children
were hurt in communities outside Madison.

Drivers also need to do their part to keep kids safe, Lt. Wagner said. He recommends:

  • Obey speed limits, usually 15 mph in school zones but subject to local regulation.
  • Slow down and exercise caution when kids are walking, biking, or skateboarding.
  • Stop for stopped school buses; never pass them.
  • Watch for crossing guards.
  • Approach all crosswalks and intersections with caution. Never go around a vehicle stopped
    at a crosswalk.

Participating in this program are the Wisconsin State Patrol and all Dane County police departments: Belleville, Blue Mounds, Cottage Grove, Cross Plains, DeForest, Fitchburg, Madison, Maple Bluff, Marshall, McFarland, Middleton, Monona, Mount Horeb, Oregon, Shorewood Hills, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona, and Waunakee. Also participating is the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, providing law enforcement services to Black Earth, Brooklyn, Cambridge/Deerfield, Cottage Grove (town), Dunn, Mazomanie, Middleton (town), Westport/Dane, Windsor, and other outlying communities.

The Slow Down yard sign and increased traffic enforcement effort is a countywide collaborative effort among law enforcement agencies, community groups promoting safer driving, Dane County Traffic Safety Commission, Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and Vision Zero – Madison.


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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.