The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 17, 2013

Ask a Trooper: Are tragic crashes increasing near Mankato?

Fatal crashes on rise in state

By Jacalyn Sticha
Minnesota State Patrol

Answer: Fatal and injury crashes are on the rise statewide. In a period of a little more than a month, there have been six fatal crashes resulting in nine deaths in south central Minnesota. Approximately 33 percent of these crashes were intersection related: Traffic control violations, right-of-way/failure to yield. Of the 23 injury crashes during that same period, 48 percent were intersection related.  This is being repeated in many parts of the state.

 We have not specifically addressed the complexities of the intersection with numerous traffic safety campaigns running continuously. Obeying traffic control devices/signs is vital. Stop means stop — no rolling, no fudging and yellow lights warn us that we need to prepare to stop.

 When stopped, let your vehicle set back with the tires still; observe traffic, repeatedly scanning until you accurately understand the dynamics in and around the intersection. Always look for construction and changes in signage, and know that the more lanes a roadway has, the more consideration is needed. Do not be rushed by other drivers to proceed; it is never acceptable to let others make your driving decisions.

Vision obstructions and blind spots are inherent in a vehicle’s design, such as the supporting pillars and rearview mirror. It is crucial not to add more obstructions like air fresheners, GPS devices, blinds, logos and dark tinting to name just a few. Driving is a visual affair and requires an unobstructed view to be successful; intersections are no exception.

A pair of fluffy dice hanging from a rearview mirror can block an entire vehicle from view. At night, the glow of a GPS can mute the silhouette of a vehicle even further, rendering it almost invisible. Tinting and baby blinds, for the most part need to go. By trying to create a comfortable environment, you also are increasing the odds of crashing. Portholes carved out of snow or ice with just enough area for the driver to see out are illegal, dangerous and thoughtless.

I am close to belaboring the point;  however, I feel it is important that everyone know that intersections are a big deal. Obeying traffic control devices, taking your time and assuring a clear, clean and unobstructed view to the outside will increase your odds of getting home safely.