Kenosha Police Department: Heed the speed

This is the first in a series of articles that will regularly appear on from Kenosha Police Department Crime Prevention Unit Officers Jeff Wamboldt and Ron Francis:

You have been diagnosed with Spring Fever and are eager to join your children for some outside fun. Unfortunately, housework dampens your plans so you send the kids to play on their own. Suddenly, you hear the sound of screeching car tires and the screams of a child in pain. You drop everything and hurry outside. A group of people are gathering in the street around the front of a car. Someone yells, “Call 911!” You reach the group and discover your child has been hit. How can this be? You live in a safe neighborhood and the speed limit is only 25 mph.

Speeding in excess of the posted limit, inattentive driving, or reckless driving can occur on any roadway, whether in a quiet suburban neighborhood or a busy business district. One Kenosha Common Council member stated that speeding in residential neighborhoods is the number one complaint from his constituents. Traffic complaints also lead the list of Neighborhood Watch participant issues.

Pedestrians and children are most at risk when speeding occurs in residential neighborhoods. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children age two to fourteen. When vehicles are traveling 30 mph, 45 percent of the pedestrians hit will die. Fatalities jump to 85 percent when the vehicle is traveling 40 mph.

To combat the problem of speeding and aggressive driving in residential neighborhoods, the Kenosha Police Department has developed a three phase initiative called Heed the Speed.

Phase One is the educational phase. Using a flyer drop or email campaign, residents of a specific neighborhood are informed of traffic related safety issues. In most cases, the violators live or work in the immediate area.

Phase Two is the awareness phase. A mobile radar unit will be strategically placed on the roadway to help make drivers aware of their speed. Actually seeing the speed flash before a driver’s eyes may encourage obedience of the law.

Phase Three is the enforcement phase. If compliance is not gained in phases one or two, a citation or other consequence may be issued to the violator.

Here are some points for motorists:

  • The speed limit in residential neighborhoods is 25 mph.
  • Expect to see pedestrians and children outside on the streets and sidewalks. Be prepared to stop suddenly.
  • Reduce the number of distractions. While driving, do not text, eat, or allow your pet to sit on your lap. Avoid cell phone use and tuning the radio.

Here are some points for pedestrian:

  • Cross at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right, and left again when crossing.
  • Walk; do not run, across the street.
  • Walk on sidewalks. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Here are some points for parents:

  • Hold your child’s hand in parking lots and while crossing streets.
  • Never allow young children to cross streets alone.
  • Teach your children never to run out into the street for a ball, pet, or any other reason.
  • Teach your child to continue crossing the street if they drop something. Check for traffic before going back to retrieve the item.
  • Make sure your children play in safe places away from motor vehicles. Fence off play areas from driveways and streets.
  • Dress your children in bright or reflective material during low light situations – dawn, dusk, after dark. One in four child pedestrian deaths occur between 6 and 9 p.m.
  • The maturity level of children under 10 makes them unable to correctly gage the speed of vehicles, putting them at greater risk.

The goal of the Heed the Speed initiative is to increase driver awareness and ultimately the safety of all Kenosha residents. To learn how to implement a Heed the Speed initiative in your area call the Kenosha Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at 657-3937.

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