Monthly Archives: September 2017

6 Tips to Keep your Children Safe While Driving

When you are driving with your children, you are not the only one in the car who can be injured in a car accident in Wisconsin. Your children can be victims of a collision as well and potentially suffer severe injuries with permanent complications. The only way you can ensure that your children will never be hurt in a car accident is to never drive with them, which is not practical or realistic. You can take safety precautions to reduce your chance of being involved in a collision and to protect your children from harm if you are in an accident.

Use Appropriate Child Seats for their Ages and Weights

If your children are small enough to need safety seats, make sure the seats they are in are appropriate for their sizes and oriented the correct way in your vehicle. Children age 12 and under are safest in the back seat.

Until your child is one year old or 22 pounds, he or she should be in a rear-facing car seat. Once a child’s height or weight exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation for his or her forward-facing car seat, he or she should use a booster seat. Most children are ready to ride with just an adult seatbelt by age eight, but some are not large enough to ride without a booster seat until age 10.

Follow Posted Traffic Laws

Obeying the posted traffic signs protects you and all others on the roadway, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Come to a full stop at every red light and stop sign, drive within the speed limit, and comply with all other signs like yield and merge signs.

Do Not Drive Drunk, Distracted, or Drowsy

Just like obeying the posted traffic signs is safest for you, your passengers, and all others on the roadway, it is important that you are in a safe state of mind when you drive. This means driving only when you are alert enough to safely operate a motor vehicle and choosing not to drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or another drug. Using your cell phone and allowing yourself to become distracted by other sources like eating, drinking, and your vehicle’s radio can also put you and your passengers at an increased risk of being involved in an accident.

Be Mindful of Safety Recalls

Visit recalls.gov and sign up for email notifications about new safety recalls to keep yourself aware of all new child safety seat and vehicle recalls as they are issued. Having a faulty part on your vehicle replaced or repaired can reduce your chance of causing an accident and replacing an insufficient car seat can protect your child from injury if you are involved in one.

Keep Up on your Vehicle’s Maintenance

A well-maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle. Be sure to keep your tires appropriately inflated at all times and to replace your brake pads as necessary. Bald tires, worn brakes, and worn windshield wipers can all increase your likelihood of being involved in a collision.

Model Safe Driving Behavior

Before you know it, your children will be teenagers and driving on their own. As a parent, you want to be sure that your children are safe when they get behind the wheel. One of the most effective ways to do this is to model safe driving behavior like wearing your seat belt and maintaining a safe following distance with other vehicles. When your children ride in your car, they see everything you do. If they see you using your cell phone while driving, speeding, and making other unsafe driving choices, they will be more likely to make these choices themselves.

Talk about the consequences of unsafe driving, and be sure to go beyond your personal consequences for them if you catch them speeding or using the phone while they drive. Talk about the fines and other legal consequences for speeding and drunk driving and the injuries they can sustain or cause others to suffer if they are involved in a collision.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or your child are injured in a car accident, work with an experienced Appleton car accident attorney to file and pursue a personal injury claim. Contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office, during which we can discuss your case in greater detail and determine the most effective way for you to move forward with your claim.

Texting While Driving: A Killing Combination

It is no secret that text messaging while driving causes car accidents. Text messaging is by no means the only distraction drivers face, but it is currently one of the most prevalent. Many states across the nation have passed laws prohibiting the practice, imposing steep fines and other penalties on drivers found using their smartphones for text messaging and app use while driving. In fact, lawmakers in a few states have even proposed legislation to permit law enforcement to use “textalyzers,” electronic devices that can determine whether a driver was using his or her phone at the time of a collision.

Wisconsin and National Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people died as the result of distracted driving in 2015. That year, 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. Each day, an estimated 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving.

In Wisconsin, 24,016 collisions due to distracted driving were reported in 2015. 10,615 people were injured and 94 were killed by distracted drivers that year.

Why is Texting while Driving Dangerous?

Text messaging while driving is dangerous because it takes the driver’s eyes and hands – the most important connections he or she has with the vehicle and the task at hand – off the road. Not only does text messaging physically inhibit the driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle, it takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving as well.

When a driver relinquishes control of a vehicle like this, he or she can easily cause a collision by missing a hazard in the roadway, failing to swerve, stop, or adjust speed appropriately to the present traffic conditions, and miss stop signs, yield signs, and red lights. Even taking one’s eyes off the road for a few seconds can dramatically increase his or her risk of being involved in a collision. On average, a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that driver travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Texting and Other Driving Distractions

Other distractions drivers face in the car include:

Talking on the phone. Although hands-free headsets and software can make talking on the phone while driving less dangerous, it is still safest for drivers to completely focus on the roadway;

  • Loud music that blocks important sounds outside the vehicle;
  • Eating while driving;
  • Grooming while driving;
  • Adjusting a vehicle’s radio, climate control, or GPS;
  • Daydreaming while driving;
  • Pets in the vehicle; and
  • Heated interactions with passengers in the vehicle.

Choose Not to Text and Drive

Texting while driving is a choice. You can protect yourself and others on the roadway by choosing not to text while you are driving.

For many, curbing a text messaging habit is not easy. Many individuals have to train themselves not to text and drive. A few strategies to consider to keep yourself from being tempted to respond to your phone’s notifications include:

  • Setting your phone to silent when you are in the car;
  • Downloading an app like Live2Txt and Cellcontrol to block incoming phone calls and messages while you are driving;
  • Putting your phone in the glove box or back seat where you cannot reach it while you are driving; and
  • If you are driving with a passenger, having him or her take over phone duties. This can mean taking your calls for you and responding to text messages on your behalf.
  • If you are expecting an important text message or phone call, change the notification tone for its sender so you can differentiate between that individual and others. When you hear the tone for that caller or sender, pull off the road and park so you can take the call or respond to the message.

If you are the parent of a teen who drives or soon will drive, model safe driving behavior by opting not to text and drive. Talk to your child about the dangers of distracted driving and the consequences for texting and driving, which can include tickets, fines, damage to the vehicle, and injuries.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your related damages. To get started on your case with an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer, contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.