Officials urge drivers to keep roads safe on New Year’s Eve

Madison Metro, Dane Co. Tavern League will offer safe rides

Published On: Dec 30 2013 06:08:16 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 30 2013 06:59:52 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to keep the roads safe this New Year’s Eve with more deputies patrolling roadways.

Deputy Jeff Thiel has worked for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office for 22 years, and a good chunk of it has been spent on the road.

“Highway 51 and Highway 14 go through my area, and there’s a lot of traffic on those roads,” Thiel said.

Thiel said he has dealt with fatal crashes and OWI homicides while patrolling his area.

“It’s not good. It’s not a good scene to be at, but obviously you suck up your emotions and drive on,” Thiel said.

This New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the sheriff’s office will increase its presence on the roads.

Over the past year, traffic deaths in Dane County have gone up. In 2013, there were 35, compared to 2012, when there were 33. So on a holiday when traffic is expected to increase, the sheriff’s office is asking the public to plan ahead.

Madison Metro will be offering free, safe rides starting New Year’s Eve and into the early hours of 2014.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said he hopes people will take advantage of the service.

“Make the right decision for themselves as well as others on the road and get a safe ride home,” Mahoney said.

Twenty-two years on the job taught Thiel that some people don’t learn and will continue to drink and drive, but even that won’t stop him from trying to keep others safe.

“Every time I stop you and I have any indication of drugs or alcohol, I’m going to pull you and see if you're under the influence, because I don’t want you going down the road and hurting somebody, whether it’s my family or somebody else’s, or hurting yourself,” Thiel said.

Last Near Year’s Eve, Dane County deputies made three OWI arrests. The Dane County Tavern League will also be giving safe rides -- just ask a bartender for assistance.