Patrols to put brakes on speeders

Drive at safe speeds and you won’t find flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.  Local law enforcement and state patrol are conducting increased speed patrols March 18-22 to combat a deadly cause of traffic crashes.

The special “speed week” enforcement and education effort is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

Unsafe and illegal speed is the most commonly reported contributing factor in fatal crashes. During 2009–2011, speed was a contributing factor in three fatalities in Isanti County and 254 traffic deaths statewide.

In Isanti County, an average speeding citation for 10 mph over the limit is $115. Motorists stopped at 20 mph over the speed limit face double the fine, and those ticketed traveling more than 100 mph can lose their license for six months.

“As drivers, we can’t put our schedules ahead of other motorists’ safety,” said Bob Bollenbeck, Isanti County Toward Zero Deaths Program Coordinator. “Running late or being in a hurry are not excuses to speed and put other drivers at risk.”

Consequences of Speeding

The Isanti TZD coalition cites these dangers of speeding:

• Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.

• Increased stopping distance.

• Less time available for driver response for crash avoidance.

• Increased crash severity leading to more numerous and severe injuries.

• The coalition notes that a motorist traveling at 65 miles per hour compared to 55 mph will save only 1 minute and 41 seconds on a 10 mile trip.

• More than twice as many speed-related fatal crashes occur on rural roads than major urban roads.

Are You an Aggressive Driver?

Aggressive driving traits—such as tailgating, unsafe passing including passing on the shoulder, running lights and weaving in and out of traffic—are another safety concern of the Isanti TZD Program.

Bollenbeck said motorists confronted by aggressive drivers should: Get out of their way, stay calm, do not challenge them and avoid eye contact. Motorists may also report aggressive driving and should be prepared to provide vehicle description, license number and location.

Three Seconds is the Safe Following Distance

Bollenbeck says motorists should keep a three-second following distance to allow for safe stopping and reaction to other vehicles. It takes more than the length of a football field to stop when traveling at 60 miles per hour.

Local agencies are conducting “speed weeks” —extra speed enforcement and education efforts—through Sept. 30, 2013, as part of the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative.

A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes—education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.