Patrick Springer, Published February 21 2012
State Patrol message to area motorists: Slow downMOORHEAD – Jesse Grabow was driving to work Tuesday morning when a car driven by a young woman “blew past” him on Interstate 94 east of town.
Sgt. Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol, traveling in his marked patrol car, pulled the woman over and gave her a speeding ticket.
The young woman, a college student in a hurry to get to class, hadn’t gotten the message despite a tragic accident that killed four North Dakota State University students Monday on I-94 near Alexandria, Minn.:
Slow down. Don’t overdrive conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.
“Motorists here in the Red River Valley, we know things can change in a hurry,” Grabow said.
Drivers should be aware that road conditions can change without warning, and should be honest about their skill level and ability to handle hazardous conditions, such as ice or slush.
“Use good common sense,” Grabow said. “If you’re passing everybody else on a day like this, that should be your first warning.”
Grabow’s safety reminders came in the wake of Monday’s hazardous conditions, from snow turning to or ice as precipitation fell while temperatures hovered around freezing.
Six people were killed in road accidents in Minnesota and North Dakota, including the four NDSU students, heading to Fargo from their homes in the Twin Cities. Their car lost control, slid through the median, and was hit broadside by an oncoming SUV.
State troopers still are investigating the accident. Slushy conditions, which can switch abruptly from water to ice, can be especially unpredictable, Grabow said.
Minnesota troopers responded to almost 200 accidents, including a dozen rollovers and two involving fatalities, during Monday’s snowy weather.
Many motorists seemed unaccustomed to driving in snowy conditions, given the mostly dry winter to date, Grabow said.
John Wheeler, WDAY chief meteorologist, said it’s been his observation over the years that most accidents don’t occur in the worst storms.
“We haven’t had a lot of icy roads this year and people really haven’t gotten into the mindset,” Wheeler said. “That is part of it.”
An initial report on the fatal accident could come in about 10 days, although a final report might take two or three months, Grabow said.
In the meantime, he added, motorists shouldn’t forget: “You need to slow down. Life is precious.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522