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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

In making MN roads safer, law change sought for safety course

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024   

Traffic deaths are trending higher in Minnesota this year after a decline the previous year.

Groups pushing for safer roads are convinced a small policy adjustment for older drivers could make a big difference. Current Minnesota law requires licensed drivers age 55 and older to take an eight-hour safety course to qualify for a 10% discount on their car insurance.

Cathy McLeer, state director of AARP Minnesota, which helps carry out the training, noted course participation has been waning. She is joining the call for state lawmakers to consider a bill to reduce the mandatory threshold to four hours.

"An independent study found that drivers were just as likely to improve their driving behaviors with a four-hour course as eight-hour courses," McLeer reported.

McLeer pointed out through a shorter schedule, it is important to convince more people to stay up to date with traffic laws and learn about new technology in cars. Nearly 20 other states allow a course length of four hours, and nine of them mandate insurance discounts for the training.

The Minnesota bill is bipartisan but faces a cutoff later this week to advance in the current session. It is uncertain if it will get enough hearings.

Cheryl Salo, driver safety program coordinator for AARP Minnesota, said older drivers tend to be more cautious but noted they are sharing the roads with plenty of bigger trucks and SUVs these days.

"Those drivers sometimes don't realize how limited their ability to see around them is," Salo emphasized. "We as drivers need to take the responsibility to give those large vehicle drivers that extra space that they need."

Large vehicles are among the topics covered in the training courses, along with information about the emergence of roundabouts in intersections across the state. Like other states, Minnesota saw a pandemic-era spike in traffic fatalities, before numbers stabilized. However, the percentage of crash fatalities rose for the 55+ age group, while overall totals declined.

Disclosure: AARP Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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