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Troopers' Peril Hits Close to Home

With 31 State Patrol officers hit along highways this winter—two of them near Fridley—officials are reminding drivers to slow down.

It's been a bad week and a bad winter for State Patrol officers getting hit along highways in Minnesota—including near Fridley.

On Tuesday Trooper Tim Peterson suffered injuries to his face when his squad car got hit while he was arresting a drunk driver on I-694 at Silver Lake Road. Peterson was one of eight troopers hit since Sunday.

And exactly one month earlier, Roeske said, on Jan. 22, another trooper sustained minor injuries when he was hit on I-694 just slightly further east, at Long Lake Road.

Since Nov. 1, 31 state troopers have been hit on Minnesota roads.

They are accustomed to working next to high-speed traffic, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a State Patrol spokesman—but "every now and then we have a week like this one."

Roeske said key differences between interstate highways like I-694 and state highways like Hwy. 47 (University Avenue) and Hwy. 65 (Central Avenue) are speed and what drivers expect.

"On the freeways, traffic is moving faster—drivers are not anticipating having to slow or stop," he said. Even in poor weather, drivers may be able to go 50 miles per hour—but they may not be able to slow down or stop to avoid an emergency.

Drivers on state highways, especially where there are traffic signals, as in Fridley, are of a "mindset that the might have to stop." That helps them be better prepared to react if they come upon an accident scene with a squad car and tow trucks.

Minnesota's move-over law requires drivers to keep one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights on any road with two or more lanes, or slow down if they can't move over. 

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