Category Archives: Rules of the Road

Have You Gotten Your Dot? Illinois’ Yellow Dot Program

illinois-yellow-dot-program“Got the Dot?” is Illinois’ slogan for their statewide initiative designed to provide important medical information about vehicle drivers and passengers in case of an emergency. Illinois implemented the Yellow Dot Program in 2011 to decrease deaths on their roadways. According to the Yellow Dot website, people who experience a traumatic injury have the best chance of survival when they are seen and treated within an hour of being injured. In the moments following a serious crash, every second counts. This program has been put into place to ensure that those seconds are not wasted.

The Yellow Dot program assists first responders in knowing important medical information about people involved in an accident. Information contained on the medical cards can be the difference between life and death. To join the program, you need the following three things:

  1. A clear photograph, which will be placed on your medical card to identify you.
  2. Personal information, such as your name, emergency contacts, medical providers, medical conditions, recent surgeries, allergies, and any current medications. This info is placed on your medical card, which will be placed in your glove compartment.
  3. The yellow dot decal, which will be placed on the lower corner of the rear-facing window on the driver’s side. The decal alerts responders that you have your medical card located in your glove compartment.

If you live in Illinois and haven’t joined this initiative, it is highly recommended that you do so. Any person at any age can take part, so you should have medical cards made for anyone who frequently drives or rides in your car, especially if someone has a specific medical concern. Go to YellowDotIllinois.org to find information, order Yellow Dot materials, and see locations where you can get your dot decal. Other states participate in similar programs, so if you don’t live in Illinois, it is encouraged that you visit your state’s department of transportation website to view what you can do. Accidents are unpredictable, so it is best to be prepared. You never know – a program like this could save your life.

Share the Road

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As the weather continues to get warmer, be prepared to see more motorcycles on the road. As motorists, it’s our responsibility to watch out for motorcycles. Many crashes occur because motorcycles are hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Drivers should always make a visual check for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic, The National Safety Council explained. Motorcycle safety also is an issue of increasing concern – fatalities involving drivers and motorcyclists increased 131 percent between 1998 and 2008, according to NSC.

Throughout the month of May, which is also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, NSC encourages motorists to share the road with motorcyclists and to be extra alert when they are nearby. NSC’s tips include:

Cars
1. Must allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle.
2. Drivers also must show extra caution in intersections. Most crashes occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.
3. Drivers should never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Always give a motorcycle the full lane width.

To better defend themselves, motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and wear protective gear such as a helmet, the proper jacket, and correct eyewear.

Motorcycles
1. Should avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
2. Should position their motorcycles to avoid a driver’s blind spot.
3. Must use turn signals for every turn or lane change.

For more information about traffic safety please visit, http://www.nsc.org

If you or someone you know have been involved in an accident, call Davis & Gelshenen LLP at 1-866-427-2121 for a free initial consultation with one of our Experienced, Trusted, and Recommended Personal Injury Attorneys. Davis & Gelshenen LLP handles cases throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio, and will meet with you at your home to discuss your case.

Stay Safe On Your Bicycle this Fall

Please remember to follow these cycling safety tips from Davis & Gelshenen:

  1. Have the correct bike for the terrain you’re  biking on.
  2. Make sure that when you purchase your bicycle, you get fitted appropriately.
  3. Buy the right gear.  This includes a helmet, front and back bike lights, bright or reflective clothing, comfortable shoes, bike gloves, and sunglasses.
  4. Check your bike’s tire pressure and brakes before every ride.
  5. Know the rules of the road and use turn signals.
  6. Never Drink and Ride.
  7. Never talk on a cell phone while riding.

If you have been in an accident on your bicycle as a result of someone’s negligence, contact Davis & Gelshenen for a free consultation at 866-421-2121 or email us at ddavis@dgattorneys.com.

Seatbelt Use Makes For Safer Roads In July

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports that increased seatbelt use has been a catalyst for fewer driving fatalities in Wisconsin.  This July, we have seen the second lowest crash fatalities for the month since 1944.

Dennis Hughes, the chief of safety programs for the Bureau of Transportation safety reported that “A major reason why traffic fatalities are low is that safety belt use has reached an all-time high in Wisconsin.”   According to Mr. Hughes, part of this trend can be related to the new seatbelt laws passed in Wisconsin last year allowing police officers to stop drivers for not wearing their seatbelt.  Approximately 79% of drivers in Wisconsin are buckling up.

Make sure to buckle up when you’re on the road.  Let’s keep Wisconsin safe!

Wisconsin Gets Tough on Drunk Driving

According to a 2009 study by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Wisconsin leads the nation in drunk driving incidents.  The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, reported that there were more than 44,000 drunk driving convictions in Wisconsin just last year.

2009 Wisconsin Act 100 , which took effect on July 1, 2010, is the Wisconsin Legislature’s latest attempt to eliminate drunk driving in Wisconsin.  The new law targets repeat offenders, and provides for more opportunities for treatment of alcohol abuse.

The new law also includes the following provisions:

  1. Ignition Interlocks will be required for all repeat offenders and first time offenders who have had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.15.  These devices make it impossible for cars to start if a person has any alcohol in their breath content.
  2. 4th time repeat offenses will now be treated as felonies if they are within 5 years of the previous offense.
  3. The new law allows judges to offer less jail time to offenders who choose and succeed in alcohol rehabilitation, thereby making treatment of alcoholism more accessible to Wisconsin’s long term drunk driving issues.
  4. 1st Offense DUIs will now be categorized as misdemeanors if a child under 16 years of age is present in the vehicle.
  5. Increased criminal charges and license reinstatement charges.

For more information on the problem of drunk driving in Wisconsin, check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s special report called Wasted in Wisconsin.  For additional information on the new OWI law, visit the State Bar’s Wisconsin Lawyer article by Andrew Mishlove & Lauren Stuckert.

Oprah Winfrey’s No Phone Zone Campaign

Distracted Driving has become a hot new topic with the advent of cell phone technology, most specifically with the dangers of texting while driving. Oprah Winfrey has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Transportation, GHSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FocusDriven, a non-profit group combating the problem, and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) to combat Destructive Driving.  Oprah has started a No Phone Zone campaign, serving as a Public Service Announcement to discuss the dangers of Distracted Driving.  Click here to pledge not to use your cell phone while driving and join Oprah’s No Phone Zone Campaign to encourage safe driving.

Summer Safety – Road Trips

Summer is the season for sunny getaways.  Every summer, people take to the road with friends and family.  Before you pack up the car and head out, here are some safety tips from Davis & Gelshenen to make sure your road trip goes along without a hitch:

1. Pack Light

SUV’s and minivans have a tendency to be top heavy.  While it may be tempting to strap some more gear to the top of your SUV, remember that added weight on top increases your vehicle’s chances of rolling over.  No matter what kind of vehicle you own, packing excessive weight to the rear or top of the vehicle impairs the steering and changes your stopping distance ability.

When loading up your car, make sure that your rear window visibility is not impaired. The driver’s ability to see out all windows is crucial to vehicle safety.  This safety step also prevents cargo from falling onto passengers in the event of a sudden stop or accident.

2. Vehicle Maintenance

Making sure that your vehicle is ready for the road is an important step in making sure you make it to your destination safely.  Don’t get on the road without making sure that your maintenance is up to date.

This includes checking your car battery, brake pads, oil and coolant.  Consult with your local automotive shop to clarify that your tires are in good condition and don’t leave home without a tire gauge, jack, and lug wrench in your vehicle.

3. Child Safety

See our earlier post about Child Safety Seating to get comprehensive and up to date information on making sure kids are safe on your trip.

4. Driver Safety

Distracted driving has become a hot issue with the expansion of cell phone technology.  Make sure that the driver on your Road Trip is not distracted with text messaging, phone conversations, and other portable electronic devices such as GPS, laptops, and video screens.

Passengers should take over the use of these gadgets.  If you are driving solo, pull over to the side of the road if it is imperative you use the device.

If neither of these are an option, make sure to use bluetooth enabled headsets to minimize hand-held electronic distraction.

5. Staying Alert

Driver fatigue is most commonly encountered on long road trips.  Fatigue can cause delayed reaction time, veering of your vehicle, and misjudging of traffic signals and situations.

Make sure to follow these helpful tips to prevent driver fatigue:

  • Schedule regular breaks throughout your trip. Try to take breaks every two hours on the road.
  • Don’t work a full day before taking your road trip.
  • Don’t drink alcohol the night before driving.
  • Share driving responsibilities.
  • Avoid driving during regular sleeping hours.

Following these simple steps will ensure you reach your destination safely.  Not having to worry about breakdowns or accidents will make your summer road trip exciting, fun, and stress free   Taking some time out for precautions is the best way to protect yourself and your family this summer.

(Photo Credit- Zachary Tewalthomas 2009)

Texting While Driving now Illegal in Wisconsin

Governor Jim Doyle recently signed a bill into law enforcing penalties to drivers who text while driving.  The fines are similar to those applied for inattentive driving, with fines ranging from $20.00 to $400.00.  The law takes effect December 1, 2010.

The texting-while-driving ban falls under the primary enforcement category, which means that police officers can ticket drivers for texting while driving, without any other provocation, such as traffic infractions.

What To Do After an Accident


A car accident can be a very traumatic event.  Stress and injuries may affect your ability to think clearly.  How you react to the accident and the information that you obtain can be a criticial element in your case.

After an accident:

  • Be careful. If you are in severe pain, wait for paramedics to arrive to assess your injuries.
  • Speak with other drivers and witnesses involved to obtain names, addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Make sure that you acquire each driver’s automobile insurance information including the name of the person insured on the vehicle, the company’s name and telephone number if known.
  • Contact the police to make an immediate report of the accident and remain at the scene until after an officer arrives.
  • Cooperate with the police in preparing an accident report.
  • After the accident, photograph the exterior and interior of the vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Do not fill out any insurance documents, releases or provide recorded statements without first consulting with a lawyer.
  • If injured, consult with a physician.

If you or a family member is injured in an accident, contact your attorney immediately to ensure your rights are protected.  Contact Davis & Gelshenen, LLP at (866) 427-2121 or ddavis@dgattorneys.com for more information or with questions concerning your rights in an accident.

“Texting While Driving” Ban Likely to Become Law In Wisconsin

Texting while driving may soon become illegal in Wisconsin. On January 19, 2010, the State Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit people from driving while sending text or e-mail messages unless they are operating authorized emergency vehicles. Penalties could be up to $400 for first offenses, and up to $800 for second or subsequent offenses. The push for this bill came after recent studies reported drivers are eight times more likely to have an accident while texting, making texting while driving as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Driving while texting already has been legally banned in 18 states, and more are expected to pass similar laws to keep roads safer. Governor Jim Doyle has stated he would sign a Wisconsin ban passed by Legislature.

According to a recent study by Virginia Tech, 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction. While texting is among the most deadly distractions to driving, other diversions are also dangerous.

• Drivers process 50 percent less visual information while talking on the phone, quadrupling the chance of crashing.

• Reaching for something in the car increases your chance of a crash by nine times.

• Looking away for two seconds doubles your risk of a collision.

So turn off your phone, pre-program your GPS, and snack before you get into your car. By eliminating these and other distractions, you’ll greatly improve your chance of arriving safely at your destination.