Winter can come fast and furiously to Milwaukee. Many really enjoy the crisp air and beautiful snowfall so common in our area. Others find the reality of coming and going on our roads and highways stressful and, at times, dangerous. As we think about the season ahead, it might be wise to also consider how we long-time drivers may be affected by those with much less experience.

Even before an accident occurs, understanding important aspects of dealing with a possible motor vehicle incident can prepare drivers for sudden accidents. Victims and their families are entitled to seek compensation from an at-fault driver, and we’re here to help in that endeavor. When winter accidents cause the injuries, there are times when responsibility is shared or inconclusive. This might be likely when teen drivers are involved.

The National Transportation Safety Board has published a safety alert to put forth some valuable information about inexperienced drivers. One of the grim facts stated at the beginning of the report is that motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of teen death. Between 2001 and 2010 about a hundred 15- to 20-year-olds died each week. In 2010, 4,585 fatal crashes involved young drivers in this age range, and 1,963 of them were drivers who didn’t survive.

Looking at these numbers usually elicits a questioning response from older residents: What can be done? The NTSB suggests that enforcing graduated licensing procedures, such as we have on the books in Wisconsin, can help. Studies from about 12 states show a reduction in fatalities and catastrophic injuries among teens of about 58 percent once these provisions were established. While such helpful things as restricted cellphone use and alcohol prohibition are included, directing that young drivers gain experience under the supervision of someone over 21 is thought to improve their capability. Passing a driver’s test is one thing – regularly reacting quickly while maintaining control on an icy road is another.

Strictly enforcing graduated licensing rules is one way communities can improve safety. Nonetheless, accidents will still happen occasionally, especially in winter. If they do, we’re here to help sort out where liability rests and recovery begins.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, “Graduated Driver Licensing” Nov. 12, 2014