At a recent staff meeting, Chief Katie Mast reported complaints from a few people that they “couldn’t see” first responders during hours of darkness who were controlling traffic near emergency incident scenes. Generally, our first responders are wearing vests with blinking lights and they are using lighted “Stop/Slow” paddles. We are aware that drivers approaching incident scenes become fixated on and/or partially blinded by emergency vehicles’ lights. We are working on ways to minimize that distraction without endangering our first responders or the public. However, there isn’t much more that can be done on the part of first responders; all of that light is necessary.
However, there is a lot more that the public can do to help out during these dangerous incidents. Generally, drivers need to do a better job of slowing down when approaching, AND when driving through, traffic control points. Our volunteers have witnessed countless times drivers act as if they are going to speed through a checkpoint before slamming on their brakes. Most often this is due to inattention/distracted driving. Please, pay attention and slow down well before the designated stop point!
On stretches between checkpoints drivers tend to drive too fast. We are aware it can be frustratingly difficult through a long stretch on US-2 to drive anything less than 45 mph, but please do so! What seems to some drivers as a “too long” distance between traffic control points might be necessary to protect responders safeguarding a road between curves.
Also, rather than get frustrated and angry at the thought that a lead car’s driver is rubbernecking or gawking, because s/he is driving slowly, keep calm and be on the lookout for responders and others at the scene who may unintentionally stray into your path. Focus on your task, which is to get through without causing a second problem. Our people are putting their lives at risk to protect others; so, please, give them a brake!