Power of Zero program goal: Zero traffic deaths in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is kicking off its Power of Zero program in Milwaukee County. The goal of this effort is to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to zero in Wisconsin.

Yaritza Mercado has seen frequent car crashes in her neighborhood.

"I think that it's important for our community to come together as one and stop this. It happens a lot. I see it a lot in my community -- car accidents all the time," Mercado said.

"There`s a tremendous amount of work to be done but this effort will prevent injuries, it will save lives and it will strengthen our communities," Wisconsin State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics between 21 and 34, and the sixth leading cause of death for Hispanics of all ages.

These sobering statistics prompted WisDOT to focus its effort in Hispanic communities.

"I think the initiative is very important. It`s good for the community to rise up and provide more leadership to ensure that we take safety precautions while we drive," Director of Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services Hector Colon said.

The program uses culturally appropriate educational and motivational strategies to encourage drivers to change their behavior, and to sign a pledge of commitment to drive safely.

"I encourage everyone who signed this pledge to challenge others to follow your lead. This type of positive behavior can prevent the devastation that results from preventable deaths," Colon said.

The Power of Zero program started in Racine County in 2011.