Several fatal accidents in area a reminder to drive to road conditions
Central Minnesota has had several fatal accidents in the last week with crashes north of Wadena, near Pillager and south of Bemidji. "It's been a sad week, there's been a lot of bad fatalities," said Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr. "I think all ...
Central Minnesota has had several fatal accidents in the last week with crashes north of Wadena, near Pillager and south of Bemidji.
"It's been a sad week, there's been a lot of bad fatalities," said Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr. "I think all of us at one time or another have gone into a skid or ended up in the ditch, unfortunately. It can happen in a matter of seconds and we hope it doesn't end up being a tragedy."
During the winter, Carr said it's important to make sure to drive according to the road conditions.
"Just because there is a speed limit sign that says 55, you don't necessarily need to drive that speed," he said.
In the last week, there were two fatalities on Highway 210, west of Brainerd, a crash that killed two teenagers on Highway 71 south of Bemidji, a crash that killed a teenager in Wadena and an accident on Highway 371 north of Brainerd that resulted in a fatality.
"I've seen it throughout my career, a lot of times these fatal crashes involve inexperienced drivers," Carr said. "Even if you are 17, 18, and hitting your second or third winter. If we've had some mild ones like the past few years you're just not going to be used to driving on this stuff."
He urges parents to talk with their kids about the importance of driving slower, paying attention to the road and minimizing distractions.
Cell phones can be a distraction for drivers of any age.
It is illegal for drivers of all ages to compose, read, or send electronic messages or access the Internet on a wireless device when the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic. This includes being stopped in traffic or at a light. It is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free - except to call 911 in an emergency.
It's always important to make sure seatbelts are worn by the driver and all passengers too, Carr said.
"Today (Monday) is the perfect example where you won't be driving down the road at highway speed," he said. "When the snow comes in like this you need to give the snow plow operators the opportunity to clear the roads. They're out there and they're plowing and they're doing the best they can to get sand and salt down on the roadways and intersections."
Give plows plenty of distance too, he said. A lot of people get impatient and want to pass the snow plow but Carr warns that it might be difficult to see if another car is coming from the other direction.
Roads can be bad even if it hasn't snowed recently.
"It might not have snowed for a few days but sometimes you can get into these back roads, these county roads, you can see some slushy, icy road conditions there," Carr said. "If you start to lose control of your vehicle, do your best to brake lightly and make sure you spin into it and do the best that you can."
Intersections are a frequent spot for accidents.
"Even in town driving, you need to give yourself enough distance to brake when coming to a stop sign or stop light. You don't want to come up to an intersection going 30 and stop suddenly," Carr said.
It's important to pay attention to your road conditions at all times. Black ice can form on warmer days if it's damp outside, he said.
If someone is involved in an accident, Carr said to be careful after the crash as well.
"Unless it's an unsafe condition or unsafe area you're in, it's probably best to remain in your vehicle and call 911 and then we can get the appropriate law enforcement and emergency personnel out there with lights and also tow truck operators," Carr said.
Carr reiterated drivers just need to keep speeds down and driving to the weather conditions any time of year.