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Editorial: Learn from Deadly Monday, so everybody has safer today

Conversations around many a business water cooler and high school lunchroom touched on the shopping deals folks scored on Cyber Monday.

We hope people also take time this week to discuss Deadly Monday. That’s what Dec. 2 was for Minnesota.

The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety reported four fatal crashes on snowy and slippery roads. Unfortunately, the state could be well on its way to eclipsing 2012 numbers, when the state recorded 5,688 crashes on snow- and ice-covered roads that resulted in 28 deaths and 3,109 injuries.

On Monday, one person died after a jackknifed semitrailer struck a motorist’s car on Interstate 94 in Stearns County. A motorist traveling on Highway 7 in Big Stone County lost control of the vehicle, which ran off the road and rolled down a steep hill.

In the third fatality, a vehicle on Highway 210 in Aitkin County slid sideways and into eastbound traffic. Another vehicle struck the passenger side. A fourth motorist, this one traveling in Sherburne County, died when the vehicle ran off the road and crashed into a tree. That driver was not wearing a seat belt.

The grim news came as Tuesday’s snow had more drivers slipping and sliding on slick roads.

“We need everyone to drive at safe speeds and provide for plenty of travel time as road conditions can change in an instant,” said Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol.

A casual count of local vehicles traveling through Red Wing streets Tuesday indicated that most had slowed down. Of course, it only takes one impatient, risky driver to cause a collision. And roughly one out of every dozen vehicles didn’t have the headlights on — another simple safety measure.

Here are some safety tips to consider, courtesy of the Department of Public Safety:

•Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.

•Buckle up.

•Secure your children. Use a car seat until your child is 4 or at least 40 pounds. Use a booster until at least age 8.

Ideally, a child shouldn’t wear bulky clothing because there’s too much space between the straps and the body. Use blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath.

•Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions

•Allow for extra travel time.

•Call the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 511 travel line for road and winter driving conditions across the state.

•Increase distance between vehicles.

•If skidding, remain calm, ease foot off the gas, and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

•Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.

•Headlights must be turned on when there’s precipitation —snow, sleet or rain.

•Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.

•Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.

So slow down.

Drive safely.

Live to enjoy the holiday.