State Patrol, Winnebago Co. Sheriff intensify traffic enforcement in WIS 441 work zone

​Special enforcement detail on May 9 targets bad driving behavior

Release date: May 4, 2017

(Winnebago County) The Wisconsin State Patrol (DSP) and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) will team up to target bad driving behaviors in the WIS 441 Tri-County Expansion Project work zone in Winnebago County. The law enforcement agencies will significantly increase enforcement Tuesday, May 9, on portions of I-41, US 10 and WIS 441 under construction in the Fox Cities.

Numerous state troopers and sheriff’s deputies will be looking for, and ticketing, traffic law violators, aggressive drivers, speeders, tailgaters, and especially, distracted drivers on May 9.

“Our construction crews are seeing a disturbing trend of drivers in the WIS 441 work zone not paying attention to the only thing they should be doing – driving,” says DSP Sergeant Tim McGrath. “We are seeing more crashes now that construction has ramped up for the season. Bad driver behavior is directly responsible for the majority of crashes.”

WCSO Lieutenant Lori Seiler says drivers using cell phones continue to be a key cause of crashes. A new law in Wisconsin makes it illegal to talk on a handheld mobile device while driving in a work zone. She adds that following the new law is simple: See orange cones – put down the phones. If you are observed talking or texting on a hand-held device in a work zone, you will be ticketed and receive a fine.

“This is where I live. This is where my friends and family work, and this is where law-abiding motorists I’m tasked with protecting travel every day,” says Lieutenant Seiler. “Unfortunately, bad driving behaviors are putting their lives at risk. Distracted or aggressive driving is deadly, prevalent, expensive and entirely preventable.”

Reported work zone crashes in Winnebago County went from 76 in 2014, to 245 in 2015 and 239 in 2016. Statewide, there have been more than 2,000 work zone crashes in each of the last three years, including more than 2,800 in 2016 – an average of more than seven each day. In 2016, work zone crashes caused nine fatalities and 1,110 injuries in Wisconsin.

“We want motorists to be conscious of their behavior while driving their vehicles,” says Sergeant McGrath. “A lot can happen – fast – even at a reduced speed in a work zone, so it’s very important to eliminate distractions, slow down and avoid tailgating. If it takes writing 200 tickets to get that point across, then that’s what we’ll do.”

DSP and WCSO announce the special enforcement effort in advance to the public as an educational measure and encourage voluntary compliance. Sergeant McGrath adds that typically driving behavior in an area does improve following a special enforcement detail, “We are hoping this enforcement detail leaves an impression on drivers, and positive driving behaviors will carry over into the busy construction season.”

The WIS 441 Tri-County Project contracts with the Wisconsin State Patrol to provide extra law enforcement presence in the work zone. Drivers ticketed in the work zone will see their fine double.

For more information, contact:

Sergeant Tim McGrath, Wisconsin State Patrol (920) 929-3700
Lieutenant Lori Seiler, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office (920) 236-7300