Task force established to assess wrong-way driving problem

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office has announced a special task force has been established to assess Milwaukee County's wrong-way driving problem. The task force meets for the first time next week.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke recently appealed to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to expand the existing wrong-way driver pilot program by improving signage and roadway markings on expressway ramps identified as problematic by the MCSO Patrol Division.

The current wrong-way driver deterrent program is a partnership between the DOT, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and TAPCO. The program involves technology upgrades installed on Milwaukee County on and off-ramps. It's an effort to stop wrong-way drivers from getting onto the freeway system -- and help them get off the freeway quickly.

The technology also helps to identify when a driver is going the wrong way in order to alert officials to respond to the scene.

"We cannot have drivers entering the freeway going in the wrong direction under any circumstances.  Traffic engineering improvements can help, but being drunk compounds the situation. The DOT, under a Walker administration, has been more responsive to helping us make the busiest freeway system in the state a safer place to drive than my experience with the previous administration.  With the help of WisDOT, we will reduce this deadly problem," said Sheriff Clarke.

WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb promptly responded to the sheriff's suggestions, and proposed forming a Joint Milwaukee County Freeway Safety Task Force to accelerate strategies to address wrong-way drivers and assess and track other trends in freeway safety.

The collaborative effort will include members from the Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin State Patrol, and WisDOT's Bureaus of Field Services, Public Safety & Communications, and Transportation Safety.

The task force will have its first meeting next week.

In February, Sheriff Clarke released an analysis of the wrong-way driving problem on the freeway system.  The purpose of the analysis, done by the Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement Analytics Division (LEAD), was to identify strategies to reduce the frequency of wrong-way drivers, thereby saving lives and reducing property damage.

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