Ask a Trooper: Patrol’s main mission is to promote safety

Published 9:27 am Thursday, March 2, 2017

By Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Question: Why do officers assume someone was speeding when a driver hits ice and loses control? That can happen to the most experienced drivers. Using 169.14.1 to give a person a ticket because he hit some ice and went off the side of the highway seems like that officer has very little compassion.

Troy Christianson

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Answer: Our main mission is to promote traffic safety through education and enforcement. One of the top contributing factors to why people are losing their lives and being injured on our roadways is speeding or traveling too fast for conditions. Law enforcement sees this far too often. In most cases, these tragic crashes are preventable.

Many of the fatal and serious injury crashes that I have investigated are the one-vehicle rollovers — or a two-vehicle crash where one of the vehicles was traveling too fast for conditions, lost control and struck another vehicle.

We all have an obligation to drive with due care and adjust our driving skills to the weather, road and traffic conditions. This is especially true in winter when weather and road conditions can frequently change.

Losing control of a vehicle is evidence that the driver committed a violation of a traffic or equipment law. Failure to drive with due care is the most common violation when a vehicle loses control and goes off the roadway.

The No. 1 thing we can all do is slow down and increase our following distances, especially when roads are slippery and visibility becomes poor.

In my experience and when talking with my co-workers, the reasons found for a vehicle losing control on slippery road surfaces are typically:

• Traveling too fast for conditions

• Using cruise control on poor road conditions

• Following too close

• Distracted driving

• Unsafe tires

• Driving while impaired

• Fatigued driving

Each year, 20 to 30 State Patrol squad cars are struck while at the scene of a crash or traffic stop because of one or more of these factors. Other factors include drivers that fail to move over for emergency vehicles.

We take traffic enforcement very seriously. Our goal is to reduce crashes and keep everyone safe on our roadways.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at,