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Middleton Wisconsin Personal Injury Law Blog

Limo crash deadliest since 2009

The fatal limousine crash that made headlines throughout Wisconsin and the rest of America had been previously cited for brake failures. Among the infractions the vehicle had been cited for were constricted under-vehicle brake connections and out of service brakes. These citations occurred in March, months before the Oct. 6 accident in upstate New York that killed 20 people.

The limo crash resulted in the deaths of two pedestrians, the driver of the limo and all 17 passengers. New York's Department of Transportation, which had issued the March citations for brake defects, noted in a subsequent, September inspection that the defects had not yet been corrected.

AAA study raises questions about auto safety systems

Road safety advocates say that sophisticated safety features like adaptive cruise control and emergency braking systems can prevent 4 out of 10 traffic accidents and reduce road deaths by as much as 30 percent. However, a recent study released by the American Automobile Association claims that this kind of technology could actually be making the nation's roads more dangerous. Researchers from the group's Foundation for Traffic Safety came to this conclusion after polling 1,200 drivers in Wisconsin and around the country who purchased new vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems in 2016 and 2017.

According to the AAA road safety study, technology designed to prevent accidents and save lives can pose a threat to other road users when drivers overestimate its capabilities and act recklessly as a result. The problem appears to be especially serious when cars are equipped with adaptive cruise control systems that speed up or slow down vehicles to keep pace with other traffic. A worrying 29 percent of the drivers polled admitted that they routinely look away from the road ahead and do other things when these systems are engaged.

Study looks at supplemental driver education programs

Wisconsin teens might benefit from road safety programs that have reality-based and interactive elements. Researchers at Baylor University in Texas recommended these types of programs after studying responses from participants who took part in the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program. This program involves lectures, discussions and visits to places such as the morgue, emergency room and intensive care unit.

Young drivers who were sent to the six-hour program by parents, community groups or court administrators took a survey before starting the classes. A number of participants admitted to talking on phones and texting while driving. After the program, however, their awareness of the role of peer influence in drinking and driving and the dangers of speeding was higher. Of the 21 original participants, only six filled out the follow-up survey two months later. Four had driven, and all said they had driven while texting or talking on the phone. Two said they had driven more than 20 miles above the speed limit.

Distracted driving a major cause of auto accidents

Technology allows work or other pursuits to be accomplished from just about anywhere. Perhaps it's tempting to use a cellphone when driving, but distracted driving remains a leading reason why motor vehicle accidents occur.

While there is some evidence to suggest the problem may be more prevalent among one generation more so than others, a recent study leads to the conclusion that drivers of all ages need to do a better job of paying attention. One interesting finding is a common theme among all the generations of drivers surveyed: They all think the other drivers on the road are the problem, not themselves.

Struck-by accidents among the deadliest in construction

If you work construction in Wisconsin, you already know how important it is to take every precaution to protect yourself from worksite accidents. Even more important than using appropriate protective equipment, preventing injuries begins with thorough training and scrupulous caution.

Construction accidents result in thousands of injuries and fatalities each year, leaving workers to re-evaluate their lives, and families to cope with unspeakable loss. While falling is the number one cause of injury on worksites, the second is struck by accidents. These result in nearly 800 deaths a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wrong-way crash on Wisconsin highway kills 3

Every deadly car accident is senseless. There is virtually no time when a fatal crash is anything other than a waste of life, because they are so random and often claim the lives of people who have done nothing wrong.

An example from last January shows how this is far too common.

Automated systems may fail to prevent crashes

Many drivers in Wisconsin are enthusiastic about the potential of autonomous and semiautonomous driving cars. While advancing technology could lead to a future of self-driving cars, current electronic systems provide assistance to drivers as they navigate the roads. These systems are meant to make driving easier and safer not only for the vehicle's operator but for everyone else sharing the road. However, these technologies are limited, and if drivers don't pay attention to the road, a catastrophe could result.

One study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety highlights the realities of these technologies. Researchers tested five market-leading systems from Tesla, Volvo, Mercedes and BMW on both public roads and a closed track. They reported that the technologies can be helpful in improving safety and preventing car accidents as well as save lives. At the same time, drivers have a responsibility to be engaged, involved and aware since negligent or distracted driving could easily lead to a devastating crash. The systems are not so advanced that drivers can rely on them to brake successfully for stopped cars or other obstacles on the road.

Distracted driving major cause of car crashes

Distracted driving can be one of the greatest threats that Middleton residents face on the road. Studies show that distracted driving behaviors are on the rise, even as public awareness grows about the danger of texting and using cellphones while driving. Those who text while they drive are a full six times more likely to have a car accident than those who do not, and those who talk on the phone have a double risk of a car crash. However, the sound of the telltale bings of phone notifications continue to tempt drivers to pay attention to their devices instead of the road ahead.

In Wisconsin, like other states, texting while driving is illegal. Despite the prohibition on the behavior, people often believe that they will not crash or be injured if they text and drive. They overestimate their own abilities to control the car, even while paying attention to other things. According to one study, women were more likely than men to use mobile phones while driving.

Electronic driver-assist systems significantly reduce crash rates

Electronic driver-assist technology makes the roads in Wisconsin and across the United States safer, according to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, lane departure and blind spot caution systems reduce the rates of single-vehicle head-on and sideswipe crashes by around 18 percent. When these types of crashes do occur, the systems reduce the rate of injuries by 24 percent and fatalities by 86 percent.

When adjustments were made for factors such as driver age and insurance risk, the IIHS study found that lane departure/blind spot warning systems decreased crashes by 11 percent and injuries by 21 percent. Previous studies have shown the systems reduce crash rates even more dramatically. For example, a 2015 study of American trucks discovered that lane departure warning systems reduced lane departure crashes by almost 50 percent. Meanwhile, a Swedish study of Volvos claimed that the systems reduced such crashes by 53 percent.

Travelers raises awareness of summertime distracted driving

Drivers in Wisconsin may want to know what the Travelers Institute, the public policy division of a leading property casualty insurance provider, has to say about accidents during the summer. It appears that distracted driving becomes especially prevalent during the summer months. To raise awareness of this issue, Travelers held an Every Second Matters event on Capitol Hill on June 15.

The institute brought attention to the result of a recent TrueMotion study. For the study, researchers used sensor data from a distracted driving mobile app called TrueMotion Family to analyze the behavior of over 20,000 drivers. The data was culled from 8.4 million trips taken between January 2017 and May 2018. Researchers found that drivers were distracted more by their smartphones during the months of June, July and August than in any other month.

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