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Wisconsin Personal Injury Law Blog

Does the U.S. DOT need to do more to combat truck accidents?

A closer look at the figures related to truck accidents here in the U.S. reveals that we still have a long way to go in order to make our roads and highways safer.

Specifically, the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals the following:

  • The number of large truck crashes resulting in fatalities rose from 3,211 in 2009 to 3,802 in 2012, an increase of 18 percent.
  • The number of large truck crashes resulting in personal injuries rose from 53,000 in 2009 to 77,000 in 2012, an increase of 45 percent.

Unfortunately, government officials and safety experts alike have indicated that many of these devastating accidents can be directly attributed to driver fatigue, one of the more longstanding safety issues in the trucking industry.

"Over and over, we're seeing drivers who aren't fit to drive because they're fatigued involved in accidents," said a highway safety official with the National Transportation Safety Board.

WisDOT asking people to be careful with their campaign signs

It may seem hard to believe but Election Day 2014 is now less than three weeks away, meaning both candidates and campaign workers alike will be ramping up their efforts in an attempt to get people out to the polls on November 4.

While this level of frenetic campaigning is perhaps not unexpected, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation are nevertheless reminding campaign volunteers and the general public to remember the applicable state law when placing their signs.

Under Wisconsin law, only official traffic signs can be placed in what is known as the highway right of way. As such, everything from campaign signs to commercial signs cannot be placed along highways (state, federal, interstate, county, etc.), municipal streets, town roads, alleys, and pedestrian/bike paths.

The rural highway right of way is generally viewed as extending past the shoulders, ditches and/or bordering fences, while the right of way in urban settings is generally treated as extending past the sidewalk.

How much do you know about bike helmets?

Bicyclehelmet_da_060713.jpgAs the popularity of bicycling has increased over the years, so too has the amount of equipment that people are purchasing as part of their new hobby or mode of transportation. Indeed, some are willing to purchase everything from specialized apparel and car-mounted bike racks to safety monitoring devices and customized tires.

While some may balk at the prospect of owning this kind of bike gear, there is at least one bicycle-related item that most people can agree is an absolute necessity: a helmet.

In today's post, we'll take a closer look at some interesting information concerning bike helmets, including the vital role they play in protecting riders from serious head injuries in bicycle accidents.

Boomers must put safety first when getting back behind the handlebars

motorcycle helmet.jpgOver the coming years, more and more baby boomers will be leaving their jobs and starting the next chapter of their lives. However, a large number of these boomers won't be heading into retirement in recreational vehicles, but rather on high-powered motorcycles.

Research has consistently shown a link between the aging boomer generation and the growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts. By way of illustration, consider that boomers currently hold 56 percent of the 1.4 million motorcycle licenses in the state of California while those between 16 and 40 years of age hold only 30 percent.

For many of these boomer motorcyclists, the desire to get behind the handlebars can be traced to a desire to take on a new challenge, or reconnect to their youth in the 60s and 70s when they relied on two wheels as their primary mode of transportation. Whatever their motivation, more disposable income and more free time means this is more than just a pipe dream.

Families of Wisconsin crash victims reach settlement with GM

gm logo.jpgFor the last six months, our blog has been closely monitoring developments concerning General Motors' ongoing recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches that have been definitively linked to at least 21 motor vehicle accident fatalities.

According to GM engineers, the problem with the ignition switches is that they can accidentally shift into the "off" position if the vehicles in which they are installed travel over bumpy road surfaces, or if their keys fobs are accidentally bumped by drivers or extra items are attached to them (other keys, key chains, etc.). This, in turn, could cause a sudden loss of all vehicle power, including a complete deactivation of airbags, power steering and other vital safety features.

Study explores if Google Glass is less distracting behind the wheel

google glass.jpgWhile much of the talk in the tech world has focused on the launch of the iPhone 6 over the last several weeks, there is still plenty of buzz about Google Glass, the eyeglasses designed to function as a hands-free computer.

One of the more remarkable features of this computerized eyewear is that it enables users to send text messages via head commands and advanced voice transcription software, something that proponents have said makes them safer to use behind the wheel as the driver's eyes stay focused on the road ahead versus looking down at their smartphone screen.

Interestingly enough, however, a recently released study by researchers at the University of Central Florida indicates otherwise, claiming that Google Glass is no safer to use for texting while driving than the standard smartphone.

How new technology is making biking safer, smarter

bike mirror.jpgMore people than ever are now making biking part of their daily routine. For some, the decision to get behind the handlebars is simple economics, as riding a bike is considerably cheaper than owning a car, while for others the decision is part of an overall commitment to living a healthy and/or green lifestyle.

Whatever their reasoning, today's bicyclists have an array of very sophisticated tools available to them that were unheard of a decade ago. While some of these tools are designed to make the bike riding experience all the more enjoyable -- electronic shifting, electric assist for getting up hills, etc. -- others are designed to keep riders safe.

For instance, bicyclists can now rely on gadgets like bicycle horns made to mirror the blare of car horns to glasses equipped with rearview mirrors to help prevent accidents.

What are the odds of hitting a deer here in Wisconsin?

deer.jpgAnyone who has spent any time living in a rural area here in Wisconsin knows that the risk of being involved in a deer-related car accident increases significantly over the next few months as mating season is underway.

However, the State Patrol has also indicated that deer-related car accidents are also becoming more of an issue in more densely populated areas like Waukesha County and Dane County over the fall season owing to the fact that people commute to the city from suburban areas and increasingly from rural homes.

All this of course begs the question of just how likely someone is to strike a deer with their vehicle here in the Dairy State.

According to the annual analysis released by insurance giant State Farm, the chances are actually very good thanks to our state's always thriving deer population coupled with our steady volume of traffic on roads and highways.

Safety advocates calling for more protected bike lanes in Wisconsin

bike lane.jpgCities around Wisconsin have made great strides over the last few years when it comes to bicycles and bicycle safety. For instance, miles of bike lanes have been added, parking corrals designed especially for bicycles have been erected, and bike share programs have been launched all over the state.

As encouraging as all this progress has been, some advocacy groups, including the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, are now calling on state and local officials to take things one step further by constructing more protected bike lanes.

For those unfamiliar with protected bike lanes, they differ from regular bike lanes in that they are physically separated from traffic by a concrete barrier, meaning bicyclists aren't technically sharing the road with motorists, and are better positioned to avoid bicycle accidents with both vehicles and pedestrians due to having their own space.

How the employment practices of carnivals puts patrons at risk

amusment park.jpgThis past summer we wrote a blog post regarding the safety of amusement park rides.  Here is a follow up to that post as we move into fall amusement activities.

It's hard to believe that this coming Monday will mark the official start of autumn, meaning we are only a few weeks away from cooler temperatures and shorter days. However, even though the season is changing, it doesn't mean that people can't get out to have some much-needed fun.

From hayrides and apple picking to football games and enjoying the fall colors, there are many activities to enjoy. In fact, one of the more favored activities of the fall season is attending local carnivals, where there attendees can enjoy food, music and, of course, rides.

Before boarding the Ferris wheel, miniature rollercoaster or Tilt-a-Whirl, however, it's important for people to understand and appreciate that there are certain dangers associated with these rides.

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