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Farming is a source of livelihood for many people in Sangamon County and thousands of people throughout Illinois. Unfortunately, there are many risks inherent to agricultural work, and farm accidents can be fatal or leave victims permanently disabled.

Encouragingly, 2012 was the safest year for farm work that Illinois has seen in over three decades. However, this doesn't mean that farm workers should let down their guard or that there isn't still room to improve farming practices.

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Jacksonville, Ill., and the surrounding communities are mourning the loss of a local teenage couple that died in a motorcycle accident late one Wednesday evening in June 2013. The motorcycle driver was 19 and a graduate of Jacksonville High School, while the passenger was 17 and about to begin her senior year at the school.

Reportedly, the driver of an SUV turned left in front on the approaching motorcycle, which struck the passenger side of the motor vehicle. According to the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, the driver told police that he did not see the motorcycle and he received a citation for failing to yield while turning left.

Illinois motorcycle accident statistics

Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes with fatalities like the Jacksonville incident happen all too often. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that in 2011, 142 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in the state, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The average age of riders who died in those accidents was 42 years old, with almost a third of them under 30. A whopping 86 percent were men or boys and about three-quarters of those who died were not wearing helmets.

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According to state-by-state statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Illinois ranks right in the middle of the states when it comes to the percentage of total motor vehicle fatalities caused by drunk driving. Statistics, though, cannot capture the personal impact of each DUI accident.

Illinois numbers

In 2010, the latest year of complete statistics in MADD's report, 278 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents on Illinois roads. This figure represents 30 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state that year. While the proportion of alcohol-related fatalities declined by 4.8 percent from 2009, the number is still striking.

Statistics on repeat DUI are not encouraging. Close to 50,000 drivers were charged with third-time DUI offenses in Illinois in 2010, and over 5,600 were charged with a fifth offense. A survey of alcohol use included in the MADD report does not inspire hope for improvement, as teens and even pre-teens report consuming alcoholic beverages. Among young people aged 12 to 20, 28.1 percent reported that they had used alcohol recently, within the past month; and nearly one fifth of those in this age group, 19.4 percent, reported binge drinking in the past month.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distraction is a factor in approximately one in five car crashes that result in injury. Most distraction related crashes are completely preventable, and Illinois lawmakers have already taken steps to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by electronic distraction behind the wheel. But could more be done?

Currently, all drivers in Illinois are prohibited from texting, and cellphone use is banned completely in school zones and highway construction zones. Yet, there is evidence that even just talking on the phone behind the wheel can be dangerous. If ultimately passed, a new measure in the Illinois Senate could prohibit all handheld cellphone use by drivers.

Texting major danger for drivers, but talking on a cellphone also distracting

A Virginia Tech study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that mobile electronic devices are the number one source of driver distraction. Texting behind the wheel is a particularly dangerous use of a wireless device behind the wheel, because it involves all three major forms of distraction: cognitive (taking your mind off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) and visual (looking away from the road).

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Largest Personal Injury Law Firm in Central Illinois
Changes Name to Kanoski Bresney

New firm name, same firm tradition

Springfield, Ill., March 12, 2013 -Kanoski & Associates, the largest personal injury law firm in central Illinois, is changing its name to Kanoski Bresney to note a change in the firm's management and ownership. Todd Bresney, a seasoned trial lawyer, joined the firm in 2002.

"As the firm continues to grow and mature, so does the need to plan for its future. As such, we introduce and welcome Todd Bresney as the firm's newest shareholder," said Ronald J. Kanoski, founder.

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