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Slow down and move over? Ask 53 Troopers.

Jan. 23, 2017

Photo of a damaged State Patrol squad car.
Photo: We can avoid driving in bad weather, but the Minnesota State Patrol is still out there keeping us safe, which presents its own risks.​​

Hopefully, when you think about driving in severe weather, you think about how dangerous it could be for you. But do you ever think about how dangerous it is for State Troopers and first responders? After all, if conditions are looking that bad, you can always stay home, safe and cozy. But the Minnesota State Patrol has to be out there no matter what, making sure the rest of us are safe. And that comes with its own risks.

Unfortunately, those risks turn to reality more often than anyone would like. When a Trooper is parked by the side of the road during a snowstorm or other adverse weather conditions, helping change a tire or assisting a vehicle that has spun into a ditch, other vehicles on the road can lose control on the ice or lose their way in the whiteout.

The result? Since 2008, 190 squad cars have been struck while parked by the side of the road—three of them in 2017 so far (and we’re only three weeks into this year)! As a result, 53 Troopers have been injured since 2008.

In these crashes, the most common injury Troopers sustain is a concussion. And because concussions require so much rest to heal, several Troopers have required medical leave or light duty status. And one Trooper had a concussion so severe he was unable to continue working for the State Patrol.

This video gives you an idea of just how jarring it is when a Trooper’s squad car is hit by an out-of-control vehicle in poor winter weather conditions. It shows dashcam footage from three different crashes in which Minnesota State Patrol cars are struck when parked by the side of the road.

And in an interview about the first crash shown in the video mentioned above, Trooper Kristie Sue Hathaway reminds drivers how important it is to slow down, move over for flashing lights, and wear your seatbelt—even after you get in a crash and your car is no longer moving. Trooper Hathaway credits her seatbelt for keeping her safe.​​​​