Roadway Accidents in Wisconsin: The Far-Reaching Consequences and Essential Steps for Prevention
WAUSAU, Wis. – Each year, countless lives are forever changed due to traumatic injuries sustained in roadway accidents. Since January 2023, Wisconsin has seen 302 fatalities.
The aftermath of these incidents can have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only the individuals involved but also their families and communities.
Trauma-related injuries, resulting from roadway accidents, encompass a broad spectrum ranging from fractures and spinal cord injuries to traumatic brain injuries and severe internal organ damage.
"Car accidents can have a profound impact on a person’s health. They can result in a multitude of injuries, ranging from minor to life-altering. Even the more moderate to severe injuries can take weeks or even months to completely heal,” says Molly Pilarski, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician.
These injuries often require extensive medical intervention, including surgeries, rehabilitation, and long-term care. In addition, trauma related injuries can leave people with chronic pain or illnesses and result in life-altering health conditions.
“The fortunate ones may be able to walk away, with what appears to be, just a scratch or two. However, some injuries you may not be able to see with the naked eye and some won’t be immediately apparent. Internal bleeding and head injuries are always a concern when it comes to any blunt force trauma such as a car accident. If you’re in an accident, it’s aways best to get checked out by a medical provider even if you may feel and appear to be fine,” says Dr. Pilarski.
Preventing roadway accidents requires everyone on the road to incorporate both proactive measures and responsible behavior.
Captain Melinda Pauls from the Wausau City Police Department says, “the most common types of roadway accidents we see are speed related, especially during the summer with a lot of construction going on. When the weather is nice, and more people are riding bikes and going on walks, we notice more accidents involving pedestrians. It’s so important to keep an eye out for them, checking your blind spots and paying extra attention to your surrounds.”
Here are some essential steps to promote roadway safety and prevent accidents:
- Observe Traffic Laws: Adhering to traffic laws and regulations is crucial. Obey speed limits, traffic signals, stop signs, and lane markings. Follow rules specific to your location, such as seat belt usage and restrictions on phone usage while driving.
- Avoid Impaired Driving: Never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that impairs your judgment or reaction time. Designate a sober driver or use alternative transportation if you're unable to drive safely.
- Eliminate Distracted Driving: Avoid distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or grooming while driving. Keep your focus on the road and minimize any activities that take your attention away from driving.
- Use Seat Belts and Child Restraints: Always wear your seat belt and ensure that all passengers, including children, are properly secured using appropriate child safety seats or restraints. Seat belts significantly reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
- Avoid Fatigued Driving: Get enough sleep before embarking on long trips and take regular breaks during extended drives. Fatigue can impair your reaction time and decision-making abilities, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Maintain Vehicle Safety: Regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle. Check tire pressure, brakes, lights, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good working condition. Properly maintain your vehicle's engine and fluid levels.
- Watch for Vulnerable Road Users: Pay extra attention to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, ATVs, UTVs, and farm equipment and other vulnerable road users. Be cautious at crosswalks, yield to pedestrians, and share the road responsibly.