Police begin stepped up speed patrols

Published 9:53am Friday, July 11, 2014

The Albert Lea Police Department began increased speed patrols Thursday as part of a statewide speed enforcement effort.

The campaign continues through July 27 and aims to combat a leading factor in deadly traffic crashes.

The 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, according to a news release.

From 2011–13, speed was a contributing factor in two fatalities in Freeborn County and 235 traffic deaths statewide.

In Freeborn County, an average speeding citation for 10 mph over the limit is $130.

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.

“Blue skies and clear roads doesn’t mean it’s safer to travel at fast, dangerous speeds,” said Albert Lea Police Department Lt. Jeff Strom. “July is always one of our deadliest months and this campaign aims to pull over motorists who are driving too fast and aggressively.”

Aggressive driving traits — such as tailgating, unsafe passing, running lights and weaving in and out of traffic — are another safety concern of police. 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.

Strom said 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.

Another safety concern in July is the record-high number of motorcyclists on the road. Strom said a major factor in rider deaths are unsafe speeds — more than half of all motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle events in which the rider loses control of the bike and runs off the road or crashes.

He stressed for motorists to look twice for riders — especially at intersections. Because motorcycles are smaller, their speeds and distance can be harder to gauge.