Gloomy weather, high gas prices mean safer holiday travel

This weekend marks the beginning of the so-called “100 Deadly Days of Summer” — the time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day when a mix of high traffic and out-of-town drivers can lead to more dangerous roads.

But law enforcement in the La Crosse area said gloomy weather and high gas prices are keeping more people indoors.

Still, La Crosse County Sheriff’s Deputy Erich Zwicker is watching the roads and his radar carefully.

“Speeders — People are trying to get to where they want to go a little faster than normal. That’s the biggest concern,” said Zwicker.

Zwicker has experience patrolling both roads and rivers over past Memorial Day weekends. He said Sunday was downright tame.


“I think with the weather being the way it is and obviously, the gas prices being so high, people just tend to stay home or stay in the area,” said Zwicker.

That means safer travel conditions — not just on the roads, but on the river as well.

Last summer, the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department handed out 26 citations to boaters.

But this weekend got 2013 off to a safer start.

“Usually, a majority of the accidents happen on hot, warm summer days. That’s because there’s more people out on the water on hot, warm summer days. When it’s cold, and overcast, and cloudy and raining, you’re going to get less boat traffic,” said Zwicker.

He said traffic safety isn’t all about writing citations. From high waves to highways, Zwicker said the most important thing law enforcement can do is just be visible.

“We try to be as mobile as possible. So people, even if we’re not stopping someone, they see us and it reminds them to slow down,” said Zwicker.

So how much can speeders expect to shell out? Speeding in a boat will cost about $175. On average, tickets for speeding in a car run between $175 and $200, depending on how far over the speed limit the driver was going.

It is legal to drink and operate a boat, but it is not legal to be over the legal limit of 0.08. Last summer, the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department arrested four people for boating while intoxicated.

Wisconsin had the nation’s third-highest number of alcohol-related boating deaths last year.