Question: I was driving on I-35 on a winter night when I saw emergency lights flashing ahead. I moved over and slowed down, but when I approached the accident scene I found I was in the lane of the accident. From a distance I could not decipher what side of the road the lights were flashing. There was too much traffic to quickly move over to the other lane safely. Do Minnesota patrol vehicles have the ability to flash directional lights to indicate what lane we should move over to? This sure would have been a help.
Answer: Our patrol units are equipped with a directional amber arrow or directional lights that are either located near the rear window or on the light bar on top of the roof.
We are trained to make a crash scene as safe as possible. We will place our patrol vehicles behind the scene to protect everyone involved.
Our goal is to be highly visible with the use of our emergency lights and bright-colored vests or jackets.
If we have time and it is safe to do so, we also may set up traffic cones or flares. We also may have other emergency vehicles place their vehicles at a safe distance behind the scene. They can help warn approaching drivers to slow down and be prepared to merge lanes or stop if needed.
When you see flashing emergency lights, please reduce your speed, be prepared to merge lanes and possibly stop. Look for the directional amber lights and safely move over. Watch out for other vehicles that might be slowing down quickly in front of you, especially when the road conditions are poor.
SGT. NEIL DICKENSON is Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer for the state’s northeast region. Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues to email@example.com or by mail to Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth MN 55811. Follow Dickenson on Twitter at @MSPPIO_NE .