Be aware of emergency vehicles when driving

Published 6:35 am Thursday, October 17, 2019

In a Minnesota Public Radio story earlier this week, it was reported that 32 Minnesota state trooper vehicles have been struck so far in 2019.

According to the story, that number is a record with two months still to play out. It’s nearly double the numbers in 2018 and 2017 and topped the record set in 2009.

The story also noted that every crash involved the trooper sitting on the side of the road with its lights on for some kind of incident.

Email newsletter signup

It goes without saying that in a perfect world, no trooper or emergency worker should be struck while attending to a traffic stop or incident on Minnesota’s roads, but accidents do happen. However, a large majority of these kinds of wrecks are absolutely avoidable.

Luckily, all troopers involved in 2019 crashes came away without life-threatening injuries. It could be much worse.

With winter knocking on the door, road conditions will inevitably become bad at some point in time, so it’s worth reminding motorists to spend more time paying attention to these conditions and to driving in general in order to avoid wrecks such as these.

Emergency workers — including law enforcement, firefighters and EMT response — are already putting their lives on the line as they attend to incidents on Minnesota’s roads next to moving traffic. This also includes tow truck drivers and road crews clearing snow off the roads. They have enough to worry about without adding reckless driving into the mix.

There are plenty of steps drivers can take to ensure safety when approaching these types of scenes. Slow down, be aware of conditions and put your cellphone away.

Many of the accidents that take place during the winter are caused by either not paying attention to their surroundings or not accounting for driving conditions.

It’s state law that drivers change lanes in order to put space between the emergency vehicle and themselves. This law came as a result of an incident in 2000 when Minnesota trooper Ted Foss was killed after a semi hit the squad car he was driving.

This winter, when driving becomes challenging, or any time for that matter, it’s worth remembering that we all want to get home safely, and that includes those people who make a living patrolling our roads.