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Wisconsin Personal Injury Law Blog

Attitudes toward texting while driving are shifting

The National Safety Council -- the national non-profit dedicated to "preventing injuries and deaths ... on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy" -- has devoted a significant amount of its time to studying the distracted driving epidemic here in the U.S., making findings that are nothing less than disturbing.

To illustrate, the group has estimated that upwards of 26 percent of all car crashes here in the U.S. now involve the use of a cellphone behind the wheel, with talking responsible for 21 percent of the accidents and texting responsible for 6 percent of the accidents.

While this is certainly cause for concern, the NSC did find via a poll published in June as part of National Safety month that the public is becoming far more aware of the dangers posed by texting while driving. Indeed, many wanted to see greater enforcement of existing texting laws and stronger actions taken against those who engage in this risky behavior.

Booster seat safety and Wisconsin law

booster.jpgThere is no question that the both the requirements and recommendations concerning children and car safety have undergone a dramatic transformation over the last several decades.

For example, while the norm used to be simply buckling up young children when they'd outgrown car seats, the new norm is keeping them firmly secured in specially designed booster seats until they reach a set age, height or weight.

In fact, Wisconsin law expressly dictates that all children must ride in a booster seat until they are eight years old, weigh over 80 pounds or are more than 57 inches (i.e., 4 feet 9 inches) in height.

While this law makes perfect sense to vehicle safety advocates, it may not make the most sense to parents and especially older children who have seen their peers transition out of booster seats.

Why then is the Wisconsin law written as it is?

Police: Pellet gun the cause of chain reaction crash

pellet gun.jpegWhile there is no Wisconsin law prohibiting people from owning pellet or BB guns, law enforcement officials nevertheless urge those possessing these sorts of items to exercise extreme caution when using them.

In particular, they encourage people to be mindful of where they brandish pellet or BB guns as many are designed to be replicas of real firearms, such that they could frighten bystanders, or worse, cause an unsuspecting officer to pull their service weapon.

Unfortunately, an 11-year-old boy failed to heed this very sound advice last week as his irresponsible actions with a pellet gun caused a multi-car accident that left two people with personal injuries in Rock County.

Report finds traffic deaths continuing their decline in 2014

accident.jpgFor the last several years, the reports released by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation examining fatal motor vehicle accidents have given both state residents and vehicle safety groups cause for some celebration as the overall number of fatalities has consistently declined.

Indeed, these reports showed that the number of traffic deaths in the Dairy State hit a seven-decade low just last year with 527 fatalities, a sizeable drop from the 601 fatalities recorded in 2012.

As it turns out, WisDOT recently released a report on the number of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2014 and the numbers are once again very impressive. Specifically, the report shows that there were 215 traffic deaths from January to June, a five percent decline from the same time last year.

Do more bicyclists actually make the streets safer?

Bike Safety.jpgIf you've been out and about on the city streets here in Milwaukee, you've probably noticed more people using their bicycles to get around.

While you might be tempted to discount this as nothing more than a workday anomaly, consider that more people are now pursuing an overall lifestyle change, part of which includes relying more heavily on their bicycles as a mechanism for saving money, protecting the environment and getting regular exercise.

Similarly, while you might naturally think that more bicyclists on the heavily traveled city streets will mean more accidents involving vehicles, this may not necessarily be the case.

Consider a recent study performed by researchers at the University of Colorado-Denver, which determined that the higher the number of bicyclists traveling through a particular intersection, the lower its overall rate of car-bicycle accidents and the greater the caution shown by motorists.

GM settlement program leaves WI families with important decisions

gm logo.jpgEarlier this week, General Motors laid out the parameters of a proposed settlement program for those families who lost loved ones in car accidents directly attributable to a now infamous auto defect.

To recap, GM has recalled millions of vehicles around the globe over the course of the last several months for defective ignition switches. Here, the problem is that the faulty switches can result in engine stalling and a complete loss of electrical power. This is significant from a safety perspective, as it can result in the complete shutdown of things like the power steering and airbags.

The subsequent revelation that GM was aware of a potential problem with the switches ten years prior to the recall yet failed to take any action has resulted in swift and decisive action from the federal government, including substantial fines levied by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

To date, 13 deaths in car accidents have been linked to the defect, including one here in Wisconsin.

Drivers urged to share road with motorcycles over July 4th weekend

bike-with-flag11.jpgOver the next few days, hundreds of thousands of people across the nation will be leaving work early to get a head start on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. While many will opt to stay close to home to enjoy a little rest and relaxation, still others will take to the highways to see family and friends over the long weekend.

In fact, many of the people planning to drive to their destination will more than likely opt to take a motorcycle, as it provides exceptional views, fresh air and the otherwise indescribable feeling of the open road.

In light of this reality, it may be worthwhile to revisit a few simple safety tips for drivers here in Wisconsin to keep in mind as they share the highways with an increased number of motorcyclists this coming weekend.

Controversy continues to surround I-94 traffic project

i-94.jpgAsk anyone who has to make the commute to work or school in the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area and there's a good chance they will voice their complaints about traffic levels or sporadic delays. While some of these complaints may be somewhat overblown, there is at least one stretch of road that people view with almost universal disdain: the I-94 corridor between 16th Street and 70th Street.

As it turns out, this section of freeway, located near Miller Park, is currently under study by the state Department of Transportation, which is attempting to determine how to safely expand it to accommodate both heavy traffic levels and the widened Marquette and Zoo interchanges.

Two of the options currently under consideration by the Department of Transportation are converting the outside road shoulders in each direction into new lanes and narrowing existing traffic lanes, or constructing a new double-decker span of freeway.

I-43 crash has police reminding people to stay safe on roadside

hit and run accident.jpgIt's a common enough sight on the highways around Milwaukee and the interstates that traverse the city: vehicles with mechanical issues stuck on the side of the road. While you likely give very little thought to the predicament facing these stranded motorists as you prepare to go zipping by, you do need to pay close attention to their location given that space is at a premium on these high-speed thoroughfares.

In fact, it goes without saying that even the slightest miscalculation or oversight on the part of either a passing motorist -- or a stranded motorist -- can have potentially deadly consequences anywhere on the freeway from the side of the road to the exit ramps.

By way of illustration, consider a recent tragedy here in Milwaukee County involving a woman who was killed in a car accident on a major expressway.

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