Editorial - Give troopers room to do their jobs
They're out there, doing their jobs, helping other people. And they get hit.
Four state trooper squads were struck in March, spiking the total for the year up to 10.
That's 10 too many.
The State Patrol issued an alert last week, urging motorists to drive at safe speeds, pay attention and move over for emergency responders on the shoulder of the road with their emergency lights activated.
"The job of emergency responders is to help and assist the motoring public, and it is important that motorists assist us by moving over so we can provide our services safely," said Lieutenant Eric Roeske of the State Patrol.
Since 2010, there have been 79 trooper squads hit. Here's how the last four incidents happened:
March 18 on Hwy. 169 -- State Patrol squad was parked on shoulder and as the trooper exited the vehicle, a vehicle rear-ended the squad.
March 18 on I-35W -- trooper was assisting motorist in a ditch, when a passing semitrailer side-swiped the trooper's squad.
March 19 on Hwy. 52 south of Cannon Falls -- trooper was assisting a tow company with a vehicle in a ditch when another vehicle lost control, slid sideways and struck the squad.
March 29 on I-694 -- trooper was rear-ended by a passing vehicle.
The danger of troopers getting hit should strike a chord among residents in this area.
In 1978, Trooper Roger Williams of Alexandria was struck and killed by a car that skidded out of control on Interstate 94. Williams had been walking down the freeway to help a truck driver with a flat tire.
In 2000, Trooper Ted Foss, a 1985 graduate of the Alexandria Technical and Community College's law enforcement program, was killed when his squad car was struck by a truck while he was parked on the shoulder of I-90 near Winona.
Foss's death triggered a new "move over" law in Minnesota. Motorists must move over for stopped emergency vehicles that have emergency lights activated to give emergency responders room on the road to conduct their work safely.
Here are some specifics about Minnesota's Ted Foss "Move Over" Law, provided by Trooper Jesse Grabow:
When traveling on a road with two or more lanes, you must keep over one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated -- ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance and construction vehicles.
Reduce speed if you are unable to safely move over a lane.
Failing to take these actions endangers personnel who provide critical and life-saving services. Fines can exceed $100.
As you merge onto the interstate, remember Williams and Foss. Obey the speed limit, pay attention to flashing lights and be prepared, at a second's notice, to let troopers and emergency personnel do their job safely.