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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

MN finalizes overhaul of driver safety education policy

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Monday, June 17, 2024   

On average, nearly 40% of traffic-fatality victims in Minnesota are 55 and older.

A law change soon goes into effect to help more of these drivers protect themselves behind the wheel, along with other motorists.

The Minnesota Legislature has approved cutting in half the driver-safety class hours Minnesota seniors are required to take to get an auto insurance discount.

Supporters note that class participation is lagging, with only 30% of those eligible signing up.

Joe Biernat - an instructor with the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center at St. Cloud State University - said with an aging population, more older drivers will likely be on the roads, but not enough are up to speed on evolving traffic trends and rules.

"Minnesota spends so much money on infrastructure every year, but we spend very little on the driver that uses that infrastructure," said Biernat. "This change will entice more people to participate, it will make them better drivers. It will make the roads safer."

The move also follows a surge in overall roadway fatalities so far in 2024.

Biernat acknowledged it might be a challenge fitting all the necessary information into a reduced class schedule.

But AARP says an independent study comparing course lengths found no significant impact on the knowledge drivers retained.

AARP's Minnesota State Coordinator for Driver Safety Cheryl Salo further pointed out that by simply completing the course, no matter the length, participants are ready to be more alert when behind the wheel.

"The research has shown that when people have taken driver-safety courses," said Salo, "they change at least one driving behavior."

She said participants can also spur more safety conversations among friends and family, extending their knowledge to drivers from other age groups.

Auto insurance rates have been on the rise - and officials say combined with the shortened class requirement, that could be a motivating factor for people to secure the 10% discount.



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


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