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Unemployment decrease meets fatal crash increase in Wisconsin

Have you recently started working again after a recession-related spell of unemployment? Do you drive to work? If so, you're part of the once-again-mobile sector of Wisconsin's population that is contributing to a spike in the number of auto accidents. Even though your own driving record may be solid gold, your risk of being in an accident is directly related to the number of drivers sharing the road with you.

The number of fatal accidents in Wisconsin had been low between 2008 and 2011 because of the recession: fewer people were driving to work. In 2012, with more people finding jobs, the accident rate has risen again. The sharpest increase in 2012 fatalities involved motorcycle passengers, who died at a rate 75 percent higher than in 2011. Thirty percent more motorcycle drivers were killed last year than the year before, and four out of five of those who died were not wearing helmets.

Wisconsin's rate of seat belt use, at 80 percent, is lower than in neighboring states and this has an effect on death rates. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates that a 10 percent increase in seat belt use would result in 44 lives being saved and 650 fewer injuries each year.

Since there's nothing you can do about the number of cars on the road with you, the best way to protect yourself and those you love is to make sure you're always wearing a safety belt or motorcycle helmet every time you pull out of your driveway. If you do end up being one of the unlucky ones on the road, a personal injury attorney can help you sort out whether you can pursue financial compensation.

Source: Journal Sentinel, "Traffic fatalities increased in Wisconsin in 2012," Meg Jones, Jan. 15, 2013

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