A new DOT campaign this week aims to make sure everyone is safe for the holidays.
About 800 people die in Wisconsin traffic crashes each year, and more than 50,000 are injured. George Silverwood, with the Transportation Safety Bureau of the State Patrol, says even more heartbreaking is the fact that many fatal crashes are preventable.
"Certainly we've seen pretty horrific examples in the last several weeks again of people ejected, multiple fatalities … anything we can do to prevent that is what we're trying to do here."
Silverwood says the intent of the "Booze & Belts" traffic safety effort is not to write more tickets. It's about a stronger emphasis on saving lives just before the holidays. He says they want to prevent motorists from getting behind the wheel after drinking, and encourage everyone to wear a safety belt. Silverwood explains, unbelted passengers can be fatal to belted occupants if involved in an accident.
"Even your unbelted passengers are a real threat to belted passengers because in a serious accident they essentially become missiles that hurt the other people."
In 2006, there were nearly 74,000 convictions for failure to fasten safety belts in Wisconsin, and more than 44,000 drunken driving convictions. Last year, 305 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, and 6,000 people were injured.
More than 100 law enforcement agencies statewide are mobilized for the "Booze & Belts" campaign this week (10th-16th). Silverwood urges motorists to drive sober and buckle up. If not for yourself, he says, do it for your family and friends.
"We just keep saying it and hope that people will finally listen at some point.