Ask a trooper: Why don’t troopers approach vehicles on the passenger side, for safety?Send your question E-mail email@example.com or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.
Q: Why don’t troopers approach vehicles on the passenger side when passing out citations or checking seatbelts instead of being hit on the highway? It would be a lot safer for all concerned.
A: Maybe you don’t see it, but we often do our approaches on the passenger side. The choice is up to the officer on their approach, based on the circumstances of the stop. We have “tactical” reasons why we approach the way we do in each case. Many years ago when officers first began stopping motorists, the driver’s-side approach was natural because the driver is easier to talk to. There are a lot of roads that have no shoulders and there is no way to approach on the passenger side, so sometimes our options are limited.
Officers getting hit has nothing to do with what type of approach is made. We are getting hit because drivers are not paying attention and are not slowing down or moving over as required. Many times when we get hit, the officer is sitting in his or her vehicle or is on the passenger side of the stopped vehicle. Often, when we try to stop a vehicle, the driver keeps going and chooses a bad place to stop. Then we might have them move their vehicle.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.