Ask a trooper: Brighter patrol car lights meant to slow trafficE-mail scrapbook@duluth news.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: On I-35 one night, there was a patrol car on the right that had stopped a car. The patrol car’s lights were so bright, that we could not see the road alongside the patrol car, so we reduced to almost a complete stop before continuing, as who knows, maybe the patrolman is in the driving lane and maybe he/she is on the ground fighting with the person he/she stopped. Yes, I think we need bright lights on the patrol cars, but not when the lights are aimed directly at the traffic and obstruct our vision so badly. Yes, our windshield was clean and there was dry pavement, but no moon.
A: Yes, the newer lights emergency vehicles now have do seem to be brighter and they are here to stay. At the risk of sounding defensive, your response (slowing way down) at the scene was exactly what the bright lights are designed to obtain, so that proves the effectiveness of them. Drivers can no longer just “fly by” scenes like that.
The lights are not “aimed” anywhere specifically. It’s too bad that we need brighter lights to get people to slow down like they are supposed to. When emergency responders get hit at scenes it is not normally our fault. Drivers are supposed to be watching for hazards. When a hazard is spotted, the driver needs to slow down and be prepared to stop, no matter what the hazard, but especially when lives are at stake. Thanks for asking.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.