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Minnesota Law Blog

How to prep your car for winter

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For better or worse, Minnesota is famous for its long winters. We are used to temperatures that dip well into the negative and double-digit snowfalls. Driving in a Minnesota winter is a unique challenge. Black ice and snow buildup make even the shortest commute interesting.

While we all must drive through winter, there are some things we can do to make the experience a little safer. By taking a few proactive steps, you can prepare for the worst that winter has to offer.

Six winter driving tips to keep you safe in snow

The temperatures have dropped, and the first snowfall has gilded the ground. Winter seems to have officially arrived in Minnesota. With the holidays right around the corner, many Minnesotans are going to be on the roads travelling back and forth to holiday get-togethers.

Though most Minnesotans are used to driving in snow and ice, it never hurts to brush up on a few winter driving tips. Here are six ways to drive safer on snow and ice this winter.

Should penalties for distracted driving be harsher?

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We all know that drunk driving is bad. There's even a stigma to it. Sure, a single DUI might not derail a career, but repeat offenders - or those who cause serious injuries or death - are taken extremely seriously.

Distracted driving doesn't have that same stigma, even though studies have shown it to be just as deadly as driving drunk, contributing to a quarter of all crashes. Perhaps it's because we all do it to some extent. Yet some make a habit out of using their cellphones behind the wheel, and that's when the risk multiplies.

A mother's dismissed concerns lead to lasting injuries for baby

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Childbirth is a significant moment and one that many women spend a lifetime dreaming about. Many laboring women commit to following a predetermined birth plan while others are comfortable making decisions in the moment.

What is true for most women is that they typically feel listened to by medical professionals. That was not the case for a Minnesotan woman who was recently awarded $8.9 million after she claimed her midwife's negligence resulted in lifelong injuries to her son.

E-scooters aren't all fun and games

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They're convenient, eco-friendly and - we'll admit it - fun. Shared electric scooters are all the rage in major cities nationwide, including Minneapolis and Saint Paul, where they arrived over the summer. They're the latest trend in the "micro-mobility" movement that seeks to fill the gap left by mass transit.

Yet they're not all fun and games. The risks of using them range from accidents to assaults.

Minnesota State Fair: Safety tips for making the most of your visit

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State Fair season is officially upon us. For many Minnesotans, the Fair is more than just an annual tradition that heralds the end of summer. It holds a cherished place in our hearts. And so we spend endless hours exploring the colorful grounds, navigating shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, hopping on rides at Mighty Midway, gaping at birthing sows and wandering down aisles of alien-looking chicken breeds - all while stuffing ourselves silly with every imaginable food on a stick.

As we approach the final weekend of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, take a moment to brush up on some basic safety tips to make your visit a more enjoyable experience.

Why all Minnesota drivers should adopt the zipper merge

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If you've ever driven through road construction in Minnesota, you know this familiar sight: cars lined up in a single lane, bumper-to-bumper, miles ahead of a merge. Dare to drive in the open lane, zooming ahead of the line, and you'll likely be met with honks and glares. Yet they're actually the ones in the wrong.

While lining up may seem "Minnesota nice," it can cause major traffic jams and safety issues. Instead, drivers should adopt the zipper merge.

Oil refinery explosion highlights dangers of industrial work

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When industrial explosions happen, it's often without warning - and without an obvious cause, at least initially. An in-depth investigation usually uncovers some failure at some level of the vast industrial infrastructure.

In the case of the Husky oil refinery explosion that shook the Duluth-Superior area last April, it appears to have been an equipment failure. A preliminary report from the official investigation faults a worn valve. Weakened by wear-and-tear, the valve allowed air to flow backward and mix with volatile hydrocarbons, sparking an explosion. The subsequent blaze took firefighters nearly eight hours to extinguish.

Safe driving tips for summer road construction

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Summer in Minnesota brings countless delights: beautiful weather, sparkling lakes, twilight until 10 p.m., gardens bursting with blooms. But there are also downsides. Chief among them: Road construction.

The short season means roads are torn up seemingly everywhere you turn. As a driver, it can be frustrating to deal with lane closures, detours and delays. But there are also major safety concerns at play for drivers and construction workers alike.

Why do traffic deaths spike during the summer months?

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As a Minnesotan, you'd think most serious car accidents happen in the winter, when the roads are fraught with ice and snow and darkness descends at 5 pm. Winter driving often feels like a life-or-death endeavor. Nearly every driver who's wintered here knows that harrowing feeling when you're struggling to see the centerline and can barely make out the taillights ahead of you in subzero white-out conditions.

Surprisingly, however, more fatalities happen on our roads in the warmer months. From May through October, the fatal accident rate in Minnesota is 1.7 times higher than November through April, according to data from 2010 to 2015.

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