Speeding & Reckless Driving in Madison

by Safety Connection

The City of Madison and the Madison Police Department have received a lot of feedback about speeding and reckless driving in the city, and on East Washington Avenue in particular. Fatal crashes have increased 10% this year.

There have been 745 traffic complaints city-wide, year-to-date, 141 of those (19%) mention East Washington Avenue specifically.

City leaders came together to address these concerns and outlined a 3-pronged approach to calming traffic which includes 1) increased enforcement, 2) the Vision Zero campaign, and 3) utilizing the Streets and Engineering Department. They have seen some positive results.

Increased Traffic Enforcement

Madison Police are using three levels of traffic enforcement:

The Traffic Enforcement Safety Team

MPD’s Traffic Enforcement and Safety Team (TEST) consists of five officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. Due to past budget cuts, there are the only 5 dedicated traffic enforcement officers for the entire city (and the sergeant position for the unit is currently vacant). The unit currently operates from 6 AM to 3 PM. These 5 TEST officers write 28% of all MPD officer traffic tickets. (By comparison, the Milwaukee Police Department has more than 100 officers dedicated to traffic enforcement, working around the clock.)

You can read more about MPD’s TEST unit here.

Overtime Grants

MPD often receives federal grant money for traffic enforcement. These are helpful, but due to current severe staffing challenges, some grants have had to be returned because of an inability to fill all the spots for overtime. Relying on officers working overtime to fill hard minimum patrol staffing levels has become a daily occurrence. MPD is prioritizing 33% of its enforcement grants on East Washington Avenue.

Patrol Officers and Community Policing Teams

These officers are overtaxed and understaffed across the board, with only a small portion of time available for traffic enforcement. But because the presence of a squad car can often have the benefit of lowering speed and deterring reckless driving, officers park along East Washington Avenue and other city hotspots when filling out their daily reports so those trouble spots can have a police presence.

Traffic Citation Statistics

City-Wide Citations Year-to-Date in 2021: 13,373

This number is made up of (in part):

1,658 citations as a result of crash investigations

3,659 citations issued through grant-funded initiatives

3,224 issued by MPD’s 5 Traffic Enforcement Safety Team (TEST) officers

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a data driven-strategy intended to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries on city streets by 2030. The City of Madison’s Vision Zero initiative strives to improve pedestrian and bike safety for all users throughout the city and improve the identified high-injury intersections, all in an effort to prevent avoidable fatal crashes. The Twenty is Plenty speed reduction strategy is part of this initiative.

Reporting Traffic Concerns

Finally, be safe out on the roads! Pay attention to your surroundings, slow down, and if you encounter someone driving recklessly, or locations where it frequently occurs, or any other traffic concern(s), you may:

Call (608) 266-4622

Call Speeders Hotline: (608) 266-4624 to lodge a complaint.

Report Traffic Enforcement Concerns at on the city’s Report a Problem page.

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