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Twin Cities Legal Blog

Security vulnerabilities could be safety risks for autonomous cars

For the past couple of years now, Minnesota residents have been hearing quite a bit about the development of self-driving vehicle technology. As technology companies and auto manufacturers alike seem to be in a virtual race to get this technology into play and get vehicles on the road, it is important to remember the primary benefit being touted by this advance: safety. 

Helping people be safer on the road by reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents that happen is said to be the biggest gain expected by the introduction of autonomous vehicles on America's roads. This is expected to be able to happen because statistics show that so many crashes are caused by human error or poor human decision making. By putting computers in charge, these errors and wrong choices can be avoided. However, computers come with their own risks and these ironically come in the form of humans as hackers.

MN teen wins 2nd place in anti-distracted driving PSA contest

We all know how big of a problem distracted driving is in the Twin Cities. All you have to do is look around on any busy street or highway. Sometimes, it seems like every other driver is chatting on the phone or staring down at the screen in their hand instead of focusing on the road.

Teenagers and distracted driving

Teenagers and drivers in their early 20s are especially likely to be distracted drivers, despite being told repeatedly that using your phone in any way while driving greatly reduces your ability to drive safely. Every year, dozens of Minnesotans are killed or seriously hurt in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.

How cargo issues can cause truck accidents?

On Minnesota roads, it is easy to spot tractor-trailers. While an increase in the amount of these vehicles shows economic stability and even improvement, it also presents a threat to public safety. Truck accidents are all too common, and many of them have serious, if not fatal, consequences. If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in such an incident, you may have legal recourse.

There are many reasons why truck accidents occur. One of them has to do with cargo securement.

Excessive force is not okay

Do you know the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, including the use of excessive force by law enforcement agents? There are certain things police in the Twin Cities may and may not do when they've pulled you over in traffic, knocked on your front door, or approached you in some official capacity. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights protects all citizens in Minnesota (and throughout the nation) from government overreach and abuse. Even if a police officer suspects you of a crime, he or she must work within the limitations of the Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional provisions during investigation, arrest, and detainment.  

Your helmet might not protect you from a TBI

You wear a helmet to protect your head in the event of a crash. As you ride your motorcycle, you remain vigilant and watch for any changes in traffic patterns or obstacles that could cause you to crash. Even so, you can't ensure that other drivers do the same. If you become involved in an accident because someone else failed to obey traffic laws, remain sober or pay attention to the road, you could suffer a traumatic brain injury even if you wear your helmet.

Use of force by police

If you follow local or national media, you may have heard stories about how police officers have engaged in inappropriate conduct. This may happen in Minnesota or elsewhere and might include physical force. In some cases, this force may end up being deadly and an everyday citizen is killed. Just what can be considered police brutality and what is considered acceptable in the course of an officer doing his or her duty?

According to the city of Minneapolis, a police officer is given some latitude with which to make the decision about whether to or not to use force. This latitude is granted in part due to the situations in which officers find themselves and the sometimes limited amount of time in which they have to make decisions. An officer is given the ability to choose to try methods to de-escalate situations or potentially give a warning that force may be used instead of jumping right into using physical force.

Are traffic fatalities increasing or decreasing?

Are you one of the many Minnesota residents who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in the past year or so? Perhaps you have even lost a loved one in an unnecessary crash caused by another negligent driver. If so, you may find it interesting to know that across the nation, the number of deaths in automobile wrecks has sadly been rising.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released fatality records comparing the the first nine months of 2016 to the same set of time in the prior year. The results are disappointing at best. Across Minnesota and five of its neighboring states - Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin - a jump of fourpercent was noted. Nationally, there was an eight percent increase in automotive deaths. This marks the second consecutive year for a rise in the number of traffic deaths in the U.S. for this period of time as an increase slightly more than eight percent was noted between 2014 and 2015.

Pedestrians face increased risk on Minnesota roads

While in the midst of winter, fewer Minnesota residents may be outside for exercise or pleasure walks than during other seasons. However, that does not eliminate opportunities for people to be pedestrians. Even walking across a parking lot to get into a store puts someone in that position. Whether walking the dog, heading into a store or waiting for a bus, pedestrians are everywhere and new information suggests that they face more dangers than in prior years.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 17 pedestrians died statewide in 2014. The following year that number jumped to 41. In 2016, 60 pedestrians were killed in Minnesota. This trend in the state mirrors that across the nation. Data from the National Safety Council indicates that in 2009, pedestrian fatalities comprised 12 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the United States. In 2015, deaths of people on foot accounted for 15 percent of all vehicular fatalities. That jump included a rise from more than 4,100 to nearly 5,400 lives lost.

The Disabling Features of an Accident-Related Ankle Fracture

Car accidents are a known risk factor of operating a motor vehicle. Even riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle has its risks. While some accidents might only scrape the paint, even the most minor of car accidents can lead to serious problems for people involved.

Medical injuries can mount during car accidents and while health insurance might be able to help in some situations, many people still have high deductibles that can create a significant amount of stress for an individual and their family. An ankle fracture is a common injury resulting from car accidents; however, this doesn't mean that it isn't serious. 

Officer subject of police force investigation

Across the country, more and more stories seem to be emerging about the inappropriate use of force by police officers. In Minnesota, residents see, hear and read such reports and it is understandable that they may be concerned about this. Certainly officers can face challenging situations but all citizens still do deserve to be treated fairly even in the face of tough moments.

In Mankato, one officer is now accused of potentially using undue force for the shooting death of a man on New Year's Eve. The incident marks the fourth fatal shooting by a Mankato police officer since 2007 and the most recent other one was in 2013. Reports indicate that a hotel called for police help when a man was behaving erratically behind the check-in desk. An officer used his stun gun to get control of the man but the man is said to have assaulted the officer. The officer shot the man during this alleged assault.

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