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Middleton Wisconsin Personal Injury Law Blog

Phone use behind the wheel is prominent among millennials

Liberty Mutual Insurance has conducted a Multi-National Distracted Driving Study that shows how widespread the trend of distracted driving is among different age groups. Wisconsin residents should be aware that anything that takes a driver's attention from the road is a distraction. It can be a visual, aural or cognitive distraction.

The study, which involved 8,000 drivers across the United States and Western Europe, found that 67% of American drivers use a phone while driving to text, send an email or use an app. Sixty percent of European drivers admitted to phone use. Dangerous driving behaviors in general were discovered in 47% of American drivers and 39% of European drivers. Thirty-eight percent of American drivers engaged in speeding.

Distractions to avoid when on the road

Drivers in Wisconsin should know that distracted driving can be a deadly form of negligence. It resulted in 3,166 car crash fatalities in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it continues to be a widespread trend. To protect themselves and others, drivers should first understand the most distracting activities.

phone use is probably at the top of the list. This includes the use of hands-free devices. Ideally, drivers should pull over when they need to make an emergency call. Next, there is the distraction of eating and drinking. Safe drivers will want to set up a no-eating policy.

Watch for slow moving farm equipment

Perhaps there is no prettier place to drive than on the rural roads of Wisconsin, especially at this time of year when nature is lush and green. You may know that, despite the loveliness of nature, you still must exercise caution when you drive. You never know when a deer or other wildlife will cross your path.

However, another hazard to deal with on a rural Wisconsin road is farming equipment. While spring and fall are the most common times to encounter implements of husbandry (IOH), you may come upon them anytime you are driving. Surprisingly, the equipment itself is not the only danger. Other drivers may not know how to behave when sharing the road with an IOH.

Study reveals which states have worst senior drivers

Around 42 million drivers in the U.S. are 65 or older, and the number continues to grow. Wisconsin residents probably know that senior drivers can struggle to drive safely due to the effects of aging. While the overall number of traffic fatalities has gone down since 2009, it has been increasing among senior citizens. In 2017, these older drivers made up 14% of all drivers in fatal crashes.

A study from The Senior List ranked the states based on the number of senior drivers involved in fatal crashes. The five worst are Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and North Carolina while the five best are New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii and North Dakota. The worst states are often the most populous, but the connection does not hold for every state. Tennessee, the eighth worst state, has a population outside the top 15.

Researchers rank cities on driver safety

Hundreds of car accidents occur in Wisconsin and across the U.S. every day. However, according to a new report by Allstate Insurance, some areas of the country have more accident-prone drivers than others.

For the report, Allstate analyzed its own claims data from America's 200 most populous cities to find out where the riskiest drivers are located. They found that drivers in Baltimore were the most likely to get into accidents. The average Baltimore driver got into a crash once every 4.19 years. Drivers in Washington, D.C., were only marginally better, getting into a collision once every 4.36 years. Meanwhile, drivers in Boston were third on the list, getting into crashes an average of once every 4.89 years. In comparison, the average U.S. driver gets into a wreck once every 10.57 years.

NHTSA: 2018 saw slight decline in car crash fatalities

Drivers in Wisconsin may be interested to know that the 2018 preliminary report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is out. While there has been some improvement in one area, there are lingering safety concerns for other areas. Overall, the number of motor vehicle accident deaths went down about 1% from 37,133 in 2017 to 36,750 in 2018.

The risk of dying in a car crash is still much less than it was in 2009, for example. And 2018 is now the second year in a row to see a decrease in traffic fatalities with 2017 seeing a 2% decline. Yet it should be remembered that the spike in fatalities in 2015 and 2016 was the most dramatic that the country had seen since the 1960s.

How can you know when you have a valid wrongful death claim?

It's devastating to lose a loved one in any situation, especially if the death was unexpected. One phone call from Wisconsin authorities to your family can change your life and the lives of your family members forever. If you lost someone you love in a car accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, how can you ever pick up the pieces and move forward?

It may be possible that your family has grounds to move forward with a wrongful death claim, but this can be an overwhelming thought during a time of grief. You will find it helpful to seek legal guidance as soon as possible in order to ensure you take the appropriate steps with this process. The aftermath of a fatal accident is tragic and overwhelming, but you do not have to walk through it alone.

Safety ratings may be misleading

Professionals who study car safety ratings say that many vehicles Wisconsin drivers and others own may not be as safe as advertised. This is because crash tests don't consider how smaller vehicles fare in head-on collisions with larger vehicles. Vehicles are rated by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a scale of 1 to 5. Those who receive the highest score are generally thought to be the safest on the roads.

It is worth pointing out that the NHTSA is transparent about this issue, and it does collect data on all fatal crashes that occur in the United States. Data stretching back to the 1970s can be analyzed through FARS, which stands for Fatality Analysis Reporting System, using a tool called Auto Grades. The creator of the tool acknowledged that the current rating system was an effective tool in the past. However, it may be time to upgrade it to help keep everyone on the road safe.

Getting a license can raise teens' car crash risk eight times

While it can be a time for celebration when teens get their license, there is a very real risk that goes along with it. Wisconsin drivers should know that the National Institutes for Health ran a study comparing teen driving behavior before obtaining their license and after. It turns out that the chances that teens get in a crash or near-miss go up eight times in the first three months of having a license compared to the three months before obtaining it.

The 90 teens who participated in the study were found to engage in all kinds of unsafe maneuvers, including severe turning, harsh braking and high-speed acceleration after receiving their license. Researchers believe that the adult supervision teens receive when they have a permit is too quickly withdrawn, leaving teens with no way to develop skills on their own. A gradual withdrawal may be the best solution to this trend.

Drivers text, watch videos behind the wheel

Distracted driving is a major threat to roadway safety in Wisconsin and across the nation. It's linked to thousands of fatal or catastrophic accidents every year. In many states, distraction is the leading cause of motor vehicle collisions. Concern about distracted driving has gone up in recent years along with the behavior in question, especially as smartphones have become nearly ubiquitous. Drivers stuck in traffic, at red lights or even on monotonous stretches of roads may find it tempting to pick up their phones.

According to one study announced by a car insurance company, many drivers recognize the dangers posed by distracted driving. When people text behind the wheel, they take their minds away from the task at hand. At 55 mph, motorists can travel the length of a football field within seconds. Indeed, almost half of the participants said that they considered distracted driving to be the biggest threat to their own safety on the roads.

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