It’s a reminder to drivers to take it easy out there as Safe Communities kicks off the annual Slow Down Campaign. Cheryl Wittke is the organization’s executive director. She said the effects of speed on pedestrians who are struck is well documented. “That’s borne out in our speed studies. We’re really serious about measuring the effects of our campaigns, and one thing that we find is that people are often exceeding the speed limit by significant amounts,” explained Wittke. “If you talk to law enforcement, they’ll tell you that people are sometimes going 20 miles over the speed limit, and they don’t seem to realize how serious an issue that is.” At 30 miles an hour,a typical speed limit in a school zone, 45 percent are killed. At 40 miles an hour, 85 percent of people who are struck by a car are killed.
The Slow Down Campaign represents a partnership between law enforcement, communities and schools to get the message out. “We’ve seen the enemy, the enemy is us,” said Wittke of drivers who speed on neighborhood streets. “Typically it’s people who live in the area, parents dropping kids off at school, who are the biggest offenders,” said Wittke. The slow down effort began in Dane County, but for this year will have a presence in 47 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Slow Down yard signs can be picked up at participating law enforcement agencies and American Family insurance offices.