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ARCHIVED DRIVING SAFETY ARTICLES

It is important to know the Wisconsin laws and road safety for each state we drive in. These articles will keep you and your family safe when in the family car. Top articles include driving safety tips, traffic violations and good driving motorist tips. For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.

 




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BICYCLE SAFETY FOR MOTORISTS

General rules

  • Ride at least three feet from the curb or parked vehicles or debris in curb area and in a straight line. Don't swerve in and out around parked vehicles.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Sidewalk riding for bicyclists past the learning stage and being closely supervised by adults can be more dangerous than on the road, obeying traffic laws. It is also illegal unless the community has passed an ordinance specifically permitting sidewalk riding. This can be age-restricted, location-restricted or based on the type of property abutting the sidewalk.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Be predictable! Let other users know where you intend to go and maintain an understood course.

Narrow lanes

  • Ride in the center of the lane.
  • Keep at least three feet between yourself and passing or parked traffic.

Wide lanes

  • Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
  • Keep at least three feet between yourself and the curb or from parked vehicles.  Motorists should be passing you with at least 3 feet of clearance.

Don't get the door prize!

  • Ride in a straight line three feet out from parked cars. You'll avoid car doors that open in front of you and you'll be more visible to other drivers.
  • Don't pull into the space between parked cars. Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
  • Ride straight, three feet from parked cars - don't get "doored"

Take the lane
You will fare better with other road users if you function like a legal vehicle operator, which you are. 

  • Right turning motorists can be a problem, but taking the lane or more of the right portion of the wide curb lane can prevent this. Take an adult bicycling course to learn skills and develop confidence in traffic. 
  • Left turning motorists are the cause of most adult bicyclists’ crashes. Motorists claim not to see the cyclist who is traveling in a straight path in the opposite direction. 

Bicyclists, when making your own left turn look over your left shoulder for traffic, signal your left turn and change lanes smoothly, so you are to the left side or center of the through lane by the time you reach the intersection.  If a left turn lane is present, make a lane change to center of that lane.  Do not move to left of that lane as left-turning motorists may cut you off.

  • Do not wait until you reach the crosswalk, then stop and try to ride from a stop across other traffic. If you need to cross as a pedestrian, leave the travel lanes, then get into the crosswalk, walking or riding your bicycle like a pedestrian travels, not fast, and with pedestrian signals.

Lane positioning can be especially important in approaching a downhill intersection. Moving to the center makes you more visible to intersecting and left turning motorists in opposing lanes.

  • Going downhill, your speed is likely to be closer to traffic speeds or posted speed limits. Hugging the curb when there are visual barriers increases your chance to be struck by a bigger vehicle, or of hitting a pedestrian or sidewalk riding bicyclist.
  • Take the lane, be seen and see other traffic better if you are close to traffic speeds

Motorist reminders

  • Bicycles are vehicles. They belong on the road.
  • Cyclists need room to get around potholes, sewer grates and other obstructions.
  • Leave at least three feet when passing bicycles, more room at higher speeds.
  • Change lanes to pass any bicycle traveling in a narrow lane.
  • Train yourself to scan for fast moving (it's hard to tell speed) bicycles and motorcycles in the opposing lane to you when turning left, and scan sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians and bicyclists using the sidewalk and crosswalk as a pedestrian. Always scan to your right side sidewalk before you leave a stop light or stop sign. And to the left and right side sidewalks when on a one-way street.

 

 


BLACK ICE TIPS

Black ice can be one of the most dangerous conditions on winter roads. It is almost invisible and can catch drivers off guard.  Black ice is clear and appears black because the dark asphalt surface underneath shows through. It can form on heavily congested highways from auto emissions, but other roads are susceptible including those in shaded areas, near lakes and rivers, in tunnels and on overpasses.
Drivers can increase safety by observing the following tips:

  • Be aware that black ice is almost invisible.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and tunnels and in early morning when the air temperature is rising faster than the pavement temperature.
  • Never brake while driving on ice. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will cause a vehicle to skid. Brake only during your approach.
  • Keep your distance. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as under normal driving circumstances. Keep at least a three-car distance from the vehicle directly in front of you.

Black ice is neutralized with salting and sanding. However, drivers should be aware that salt loses its effectiveness at about 15 degrees and colder. In temperatures below 15 degrees, WI/DOT uses either sand or de-icing liquids that are effective at lower temperatures.

Travelers in WI can get up-to-date information on road conditions, construction and weather reports from WI/DOT's 511 traveler information service. By phone, dial 511 or on the Internet at http://www.511wi.gov/Web/

 

article by: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/newsrels/03/01/21blackice.html

 

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GETTING READY FOR CYCLE SEASON

1. Be Ready: mind, body and bike

There are three ways riders should ready themselves for a ride. First, there is mental readiness. Are you ready to concentrate on riding? If you are angry or preoccupied by something, taking your bike out may not be the best idea. A proper attitude will not only make you safer but your spouse and co-workers are less likely to plot against you.

It goes without saying that drugs and alcohol should be avoided at all costs, but I'm going to say it anyway. Alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time, and balance, among other things. Loss of your control over these things can easily mean your bike will soon be lying on its side and dripping important fluids. You may even get a ride in the back of a squad car. Even simple cold and allergy medications can seriously impair your riding, making you sleepy or sluggish.

Next, you must be physically prepared. Start with good protective gear. This means a good-fitting helmet, gloves, eye protection, jacket, long pants and sturdy boots or shoes. Wear gear that is designed for use on a motorcycle, not a beach or a fancy nightclub. The people you see wearing a helmet, a smile and not much else are not well protected. Likewise, folks in eight layers of leather, Kevlar, body armor, but no helmet are not well protected. It is a whole package, and you need to wear it every time. If it's too hot to wear protective clothing, it's too hot to ride, period.

Try not to choose all black gear. Sure, it looks cool, but bright colors will help you stand out in traffic.

Third, you must make sure that your bike is up for the job. This includes not only fixing the parts that break, but doing all the preventive maintenance that is so easy to skip: regular oil changes, properly adjusted controls, a properly adjusted chain and suspension, good tires, working turn signals, you get the idea.

2. Know where you are

When it does come time to make an emergency maneuver, you need to know what's around you. In fact, this is good information to have at all times. Being aware of what is in your immediate space cushion will always help you guide your ride safely. Failure to be aware of your position in relation to those around you can cause dire consequences when faced with the need to make a quick lane change. Other vehicles have a nasty habit of sneaking in to places you can't see them, like the blind spots over your shoulders. Sometimes it's hard to imagine a mini-van disappearing, but it can happen. Once in that blind spot, you can find that a vehicle is easy to forget until you try to turn and find yourself mere inches from an enormous bumper and big tires. Pay special attention to what's in front of you, especially oncoming traffic. It's easy to disregard traffic traveling in the opposite direction but that is where the greatest threat lies. Be ready for the car that turns left in front of you.

3. Keep a 2-4 Second Following Distance

Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you is arguably one of the greatest sins committed by most riders on a regular basis. When traveling on a highway, the minimum distance to keep between you and the vehicle in front of you is 2 seconds, but that is the bare minimum. A 2-second following distance is like buying the cheapest bullet-proof vest you can find: sure, it's protection, but if you really want to be safe, you'll upgrade. That upgrade would be to a 4-second following distance. Keep in mind two seconds is the distance needed on clear sunny days. At night or during inclement weather you need to increase your safety margin to four to eight seconds.

4. Practice

The very best time to practice these habits is every time you go out for a ride. Spend at least a few minutes every ride concentrating on each of these habits and soon they will become second nature to you. Don't focus so hard on practicing that you lose sight of the job at hand. Instead, integrate practice into your normal riding routine.

Article taken in part from: http://www.transportation.wv.gov/dmv/msp/Pages/SafetyTips.aspx

PDF Document for WI Motorcycle Laws: State Motorcycle Law Chart State Motor Cycle Law Chart

 

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ROAD RAGE

Driving can be a stressful experience, and all drivers have gotten frustrated behind the wheel at some point. But, it's important to avoid engaging in aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights, quick lane changing and failure to yield, especially as an aggressive driving act can trigger a disproportionate response, which sometimes even escalates into road rage, a criminal act of assault which may stem from a confrontation that occurred on the road.

The AAA Foundation's Aggressive Driving update found that aggressive driving behaviors are a factor in up to 56% of fatal crashes. Additionally, nearly 90% of drivers view aggressive driving as very serious or somewhat serious threat to their own safety.

Think you drive aggression-free? Take the AAA aggressive driving quiz and find out how hostile you are on the road.

Also here are a few tips from our Road Rage brochure on how to avoid aggressive driving.

Don't Offend

  • Avoid cutting drivers off and apologize if you do so
  • Avoid tailgating and honking the horn
  • Avoid making inappropriate or offensive gestures

Don't Engage

  • Steer clear of other aggressive drivers
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Seek help if you're being followed by driving to a safe/crowded location or by dialing 911

Adjust Your Attitude

  • Leave yourself enough time rather than trying to make good time
  • Put yourself in the other driver's shoes
  • Take a deep breath and remember escalating a situation will only make things worse.

 


TIPS FOR AVOIDING DEER COLLISIONS

Here in Wisconsin you need to be aware that the deer population is leaving forested areas and coming into the cities.  For that reason we have gathered these tips from the Wisconsin Traffic Safety Report.

  • Be vigilant near dawn and dusk, the most active time for deer.
  • Heed deer crossing and speed limit signs.
  • Always wear your safety belt, it reduces your chance of being injured if you hit a deer.
  • If you see a deer by the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten it away.
  • When you see one deer, look for another, they seldom run alone.
  • If a deer looms in your headlights, don’t expect it to move away.  Headlights can confuse a deer and cause it to freeze.
  • Brake firmly when you see a deer in or near your path.
  • Do not swerve.  It can confuse the deer, and it can cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another vehicle.
  • If you hit a deer, stay in your vehicle.  Do not get out and touch the animal.  An injured deer can hurt you or itself.
  • Walking or stopping on the highway is dangerous-you could get hit by an oncoming vehicle.
  • Get your car off the road if possible and call law enforcement.

 

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WINTER DRIVING TIPS

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, especially when a fresh layer of new snow covers everything.

Winter can also be a very dangerous time of the year. If you plan on traveling during the winter, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life and death.
Simply following a few simple driving habits like planning ahead, driving at a safe and legal speed, driving alert and sober and buckling up could insure that you make it to your destination safely.

If you must use your car during a storm:

  • Plan your travel, selecting both primary and alternate routes.
  • Let someone know your travel routes and itinerary so that, if you don't arrive on time, officials will know where to search for you.
  • Check latest weather information on your radio.
  • Try not to travel alone - two or three people are preferable.
  • Travel in convoy (with another vehicle) if possible.
  • Drive carefully and defensively. Watch for ice patches on bridges and overpasses.
  • Take note of your odometer and coordinate it with exit numbers, mileposts, or crossroads so if you are in a crash or slide off the road you'll better be able to identify where you are and summon law enforcement officers, rescue workers, or tow truck operators more quickly to your location.
  • If a storm begins to be too much for you to handle, seek refuge immediately.
  • If your car should become disabled, stay with the vehicle, running your engine and heater for short intervals. Be sure to "crack" a window in the vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.

Be courteous to those awaiting your arrival:

  • Call ahead to your destination just as you are leaving.
  • Let someone at your destination know the license number of your vehicle, what route you'll be traveling, and give a realistic estimate of your travel time.
  • If you have a cell phone, give that number to the party at your destination.
  • If you have friends or family at your place of origin, you should call when you arrive to let them know you have arrived safely.
  • If road conditions, tiredness, etc. delay or postpone a trip, make a phone call. Let people on both ends know of the delay.
Article from:  http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/winterdriving/

 

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MORE WINTER DRIVING TIPS

Ice and Snow, Take It Slow! Don’t Crowd the Plow!
Protect yourself and your passengers. Allow extra time to reach your destination during inclement weather. Do not be the driver who shuts down the pass. 

  • On ice and snow, take it slow. Drive for conditions – slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking in winter conditions.
  • Use your headlights.
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice than two-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. And remember, the larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance.
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, offramps, bridges, or shady spots.
  • If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it is safe to pass. Remember that a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.
  • On multi-lane roadways, snow plows often need to clear the center, throwing snow, ice and slush into nearby lanes. If approaching an on-coming snow plow, slow down and give the plow a little extra room.
  • Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas. There are often people out of their vehicles.

Don’t be the driver who shuts down the pass. Most of the time, the pass is closed to remove blocking vehicles. It takes only one unprepared or careless driver to slow or stop traffic.

WSDOT also closes the road for:

  • Avalanche Control: When possible avalanche control work is scheduled at night when traffic volumes are low. WSDOT attempts to provide advance notice, but in an emergency, it’s not always possible.
  • Road Clearing: If there is heavy snow in a short amount of time, road crews may close the pass to clear ice and snow from the travel lanes.

 

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WINTER STORM DRIVING TIPS II

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, especially when a fresh layer of new snow covers everything.
Winter can also be a very dangerous time of the year. If you plan on traveling during the winter, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life and death.

Simply following a few simple driving habits like planning ahead, driving at a safe and legal speed, driving alert and sober and buckling up could insure that you make it to your destination safely.

If you must use your car during a storm:

  • Plan your travel, selecting both primary and alternate routes.
  • Let someone know your travel routes and itinerary so that, if you don't arrive on time, officials will know where to search for you.
  • Check latest weather information on your radio.
  • Try not to travel alone - two or three people are preferable.
  • Travel in convoy (with another vehicle) if possible.
  • Drive carefully and defensively. Watch for ice patches on bridges and overpasses.
  • Take note of your odometer and coordinate it with exit numbers, mileposts, or crossroads so if you are in a crash or slide off the road you'll better be able to identify where you are and summon law enforcement officers, rescue workers, or tow truck operators more quickly to your location.
  • If a storm begins to be too much for you to handle, seek refuge immediately.
  • If your car should become disabled, stay with the vehicle, running your engine and heater for short intervals. Be sure to "crack" a window in the vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.

Be courteous to those awaiting your arrival:

  • Call ahead to your destination just as you are leaving.
  • Let someone at your destination know the license number of your vehicle, what route you'll be traveling, and give a realistic estimate of your travel time.
  • If you have a cell phone, give that number to the party at your destination.
  • If you have friends or family at your place of origin, you should call when you arrive to let them know you have arrived safely.
  • If road conditions, tiredness, etc. delay or postpone a trip, make a phone call. Let people on both ends know of the delay.

 

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WINTER DRIVING IN WISCONSIN

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, especially when a fresh layer of new snow covers everything.

Winter can also be a very dangerous time of the year. If you plan on traveling during the winter, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life and death.

Simply following a few simple driving habits like planning ahead, driving at a safe and legal speed, driving alert and sober and buckling up could insure that you make it to your destination safely.

If you must use your car during a storm:

  • Plan your travel, selecting both primary and alternate routes.
  • Let someone know your travel routes and itinerary so that, if you don't arrive on time, officials will know where to search for you.
  • Check latest weather information on your radio.
  • Try not to travel alone - two or three people are preferable.
  • Travel in convoy (with another vehicle) if possible.
  • Drive carefully and defensively. Watch for ice patches on bridges and overpasses.
  • Take note of your odometer and coordinate it with exit numbers, mileposts, or crossroads so if you are in a crash or slide off the road you'll better be able to identify where you are and summon law enforcement officers, rescue workers, or tow truck operators more quickly to your location.
  • If a storm begins to be too much for you to handle, seek refuge immediately.
  • If your car should become disabled, stay with the vehicle, running your engine and heater for short intervals. Be sure to "crack" a window in the vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.

Be courteous to those awaiting your arrival:

  • Call ahead to your destination just as you are leaving.
  • Let someone at your destination know the license number of your vehicle, what route you'll be traveling, and give a realistic estimate of your travel time.
  • If you have a cell phone, give that number to the party at your destination.
  • If you have friends or family at your place of origin, you should call when you arrive to let them know you have arrived safely.
  • If road conditions, tiredness, etc. delay or postpone a trip, make a phone call. Let people on both ends know of the delay.

 

 


WI TRAFFIC CHARGES

In Wisconsin, receiving a traffic citation will include not only a fine, but demerit points.  If you receive more than 12 demerit points in one year, you could lose your driver’s license. 
When you are pulled over for a traffic offense you probably are hoping to get off with a warning. Unfortunately it is not always this easy. You may not have even realized that you were driving recklessly or that what you were doing was against the law.  Most traffic offenses in Wisconsin carry a fine and no jail time. Although a traffic citation will not give you a criminal record, it will affect your driving record and your ability to get affordable auto insurance.

Wisconsin Traffic Violation Facts

Fines
The fine you pay for your traffic violation could range from $25 to more than $500 depending on your violation.  There is a very wide range of traffic offenses in Wisconsin, each with its own specific fines and penalties.  Normal speeding tickets typically range from $30 to $300. Reckless driving, in most circumstances will carry a fine of $25 to $200.

Demerit Points
Points are assessed with every moving violation. The court sends notification of your charge to the Division of Motor Vehicles who tracks the driving records of all licensed Wisconsin residents.
If you accumulate more than 12 points in a year your license will be suspended for an absolute minimum of 2 months.

Some offenses mandate more than a 2 month suspension, OWI for example.


Offense

Demerit Points

Attempting to elude an officer

6

Operating while revoked or suspended

3

Reckless driving or racing

6

Speeding 20 mph or more over limit

6

Failure to yield right of way

4

Speeding 11 through 19 mph over limit

4

Driving wrong way on one way street

3

Failure to give proper signal

3

Following too closely

3

Illegal passing

3

Improper brakes or lights

3

Operating with expired license or without any license

3

Ref: Wisconsin Statute 346

Reduction of Points
You can reduce 3 points off of your total by attending a traffic safety course. This can only be done once every three year period but may mean the difference between losing your license and maintaining your driving privileges.  Most traffic convictions stay on your driving record for 10 years.

Criminal Traffic Offenses
Some driving offenses, like driving on a suspended license, hit and run, and drunk driving are criminal charges.

 

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Work Zone Traffic Laws


Recognizing work zones

Major road construction that lasts for weeks and weeks. Emergency vehicles at the side of the road. A snowplow flashing its warning lights. The everyday garbage pickup. In Wisconsin, they’re all work zones.
Any time people are working in a street or highway near traffic, drivers and workers are at risk. Being able to identify the work zones up ahead can save lives. So learn the signs of a work zone: flashing lights, utility or emergency vehicles, orange signs, flags, barrels and cones. And, of course, people.

Driving in work zones

To protect themselves and others, drivers need to slow down whenever they see flashing lights, or move over, if possible, to leave the lane beside the work zone open. In some construction areas, lowered speed limits are posted and must be obeyed at all times.
Remember, when you enter a work zone, be patient. Worrying about the time and traffic won’t get you anywhere faster. Instead, slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. These tips can help you get in and out of a work zone safely:

  • Don’t fool around. Eliminate distractions like eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or fiddling with electronic devices.
  • Expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
  • Slow down. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second, and the faster you go the longer it takes to stop.
  • Give yourself room. Rear-end collisions are the most common work zone crashes, so don’t tailgate.
  • Allow about three seconds of braking distance.
    Look for signs. Orange, diamond-shaped signs usually give you ample warning of lane closings, construction areas, and flaggers and other workers ahead.
  • Be patient. If you don’t see workers, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Observe the signs until you see one that says you’ve left the work zone.
  • Plan ahead. Leave early or map out an alternate route. Find the latest road conditions and work zone news at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/driving-cond.htm.
  • Follow the law. Slow down and move over, if possible, when you see flashing lights.

Paying for work zone carelessness

In Wisconsin, we take work zone safety seriously. The penalties for careless driving are steep.

  • It can cost you money
    A normal speeding ticket can be expensive, but that’s nothing compared to traffic violations made in the zone. In a work zone, penalties are doubled - and fines usually increase every year.
  • It can cost you time
    The consequences for injuring or killing someone in a work zone are especially serious. Careless drivers may face thousands of dollars in fines and up to 3 1/2 years in prison if they injure someone in a work zone. The fines for vehicular manslaughter are even higher, as are the prison terms - as many as 10 years. These punishments may increase if the driver was intoxicated or a repeat offender.
  • It can cost your life
    The greatest cost of irresponsible driving isn’t calculated in dollars or years. Wisconsin sees nearly 2,000 work zone crashes a year. Sometimes, people die. And those tragedies change the lives of everyone left behind - workers, drivers and passengers, family and friends.

The fact is, people who work along Wisconsin’s roads are extremely vulnerable. But not every crash in the zone involves workers. In reality, drivers and their passengers are the most common work zone fatalities.
Driving safely protects people on the road and the people in your own car. Driving safely protects you. So follow the rules, follow the law. And be safer in the zone.


Article from: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/workzones/

 

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. Last Revised: 8/14