This past week, Officer Troy Hokanson was working on the dayshift and in the short span of about an hour responded to two consecutive traffic crashes. While it is not unusual for an officer to respond to multiple traffic crashes in a shift, it is unusual that they were both caused by the same thing – driver inattention. We know when the road and weather conditions are poor that there will be more crashes, but now we are seeing a growing trend of crashes caused exclusively by driver inattention or distraction.
One of the crashes occurred when a vehicle was stopped at a traffic signal and the driver in the vehicle behind was distracted and rear ended the stopped car. The second crash occurred when a driver had stopped at a marked crosswalk to allow pedestrians to cross, as is required by law, and was struck from behind by an inattentive driver. Fortunately, neither of these traffic crashes involved serious personal injuries to the drivers or vehicle occupants.
Inattentive or distracted driving can be defined as anything that takes the attention of the driver of a vehicle away from driving. Distracted driving can be taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel (dialing a cell phone), or your mind off what you are doing. These distractions are often caused by using a cell phone, eating while driving, or reading while driving. Texting while driving is especially dangerous and is illegal in Minnesota. The reason texting while driving is so dangerous is that it requires the driver to look away from the road, take their hands off the wheel, and have their mind off the business of driving.
The CDC estimates that each day in our country, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured in traffic crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver. The sad truth of these statistics is that all of these traffic crash injuries are preventable. All of us who drive are guilty of sometimes driving and being distracted behind the wheel. Technology today provides us with great abilities to stay connected all the time through smart phones and cell phones, but when you are driving a vehicle weighing nearly two tons, traveling 55 mph (about 80 feet per second) down the roadway, you need to be focused only on driving. To reverse this trend of crashes caused by distracted driving, we all have to commit to remove any distractions that would take our attention away from driving every time we get in the car to drive.
ALERT WITNESS ASSISTS IN SOLVING HIT AND RUN CRASH
A driver witnessed a minor property damage crash this week that occurred when one vehicle ran a red light and struck the side of another vehicle crossing the intersection. The vehicle that ran the light, then continued on, not stopping at the crash scene. The driver who witnessed the crash, followed the vehicle and contacted the dispatch center
giving a description and the license plate number of the suspect vehicle. Officers subsequently located the hit and run vehicle and the driver. The suspect vehicle had damage from the crash and the driver admitted to being in the intersection. Even when told by the officers that the incident had been witnessed by another person, the driver denied hitting the other vehicle. The driver was advised by the officers on crash reporting requirements and cited for multiple traffic violations.
Sampling of LPD activity for the week of Aug. 9-16, 2012
Traffic crashes: 18 Alarms: 40 Animal Calls: 30 Medical Emergency Calls: 27 Thefts: 18 Traffic Stops: 282