‘Racing season has been canceled:’ Madison police cracking down on speeding

MADISON, Wis. — As speeding and dangerous driving continue to be problems across Madison, city officials are redoubling their efforts to crack down on drivers putting others at risk.

Police Chief Shon Barnes says aggressive driving offenses — such as speeding, reckless driving, operating while intoxicated, racing and red light violations — are one of his department’s top areas of focus this year.

“I can tell you, personally, that not a day goes by that someone does not talk to me about one of these different violations that I just discussed, specifically racing and racing along East Washington (Avenue),” Barnes said during a briefing with Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway on Thursday.

Barnes says he is telling his department to focus on community neighborhoods identified through conversations with members of those communities, as well as three of the city’s main thoroughfares: East Washington Ave., the Beltline, and Mineral Point Road.

Barnes says more than half of the city’s deadly crashes happen on those three roads, and the department has already seen two “very serious” crashes on them this year.

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The rate of serious injuries on Madison roads is also raising alarm for city officials. Through this point last year, there were 11 serious injuries from car crashes reported — but there have already been 18 such reports this year, and five fatalities compared to just one at this time last year.

RELATED: East Washington Avenue: A deadly problem

“If you are going to get behind the wheel of a car: Please drive safely. Please prioritize people in your actions,” Rhodes-Conway said Thursday.

Barnes says police have increased their enforcement efforts when it comes to stopping people who are driving too aggressively, leading to a 25% increase in tickets and warnings compared to this time last year. He added that the department has also increased enforcement on E. Washington Ave. alone by 135%.

“There will be no racing season (on East Washington Ave.) this year,” Barnes said. “Racing season has been canceled.”