Trooper Tips: Living in a new world

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RBC | As the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to hit not only the United States, but the entire world, I know that it is affecting everyone’s mental health. It’s hard not to focus on anything but what is plaguing us. But there are still things going on that have nothing to do with Covid-19 that we still have to deal with.

My articles are about being safe on the roadways, and they still need to be. What we need to remember now during all of this is keeping our minds focused when driving, and believe me there is a lot on everyone’s mind. So even though you may not be on the roads as much, there is still some traffic out there.

In the recent weeks, the State Patrol has seen an increase in speed, as well as cars going through stop signs without stopping to name just a couple of driving issues. Even though this may not seem as important to some since there isn’t much traffic, some of the worst injury and fatal crashes I’ve had to investigate in my career have been where there have been only two cars on the roadway. You never want a crash, but it is especially true now. Any trip to the hospital creates a higher risk of contracting Covid-19.

Please make sure you are driving just as carefully as you did prior to the pandemic. You may think it is okay to be a little more lax now that there are less cars on the roadway, but it really isn’t. It also means being more observant of other vehicles breaking the law so you don’t get hit.

As they have told us, we’re all in this together. The pandemic has brought the state closer together. We now look out for our elderly a little more. We check to see if our neighbors are okay. We are a little more polite to strangers. I’m glad to see that positive reaction to this, so we should include that in our driving, but we still have some that try to take advantage for themselves.

The state has had an increase in reports about police impersonators. So that you know, the State Patrol is not conducting road blocks or pulling cars over randomly to check if you should be out. We also don’t check for papers to see where you work. We do want you to be safe though. So we continue to ask that you don’t travel unless absolutely necessary, just as the Governor has said in his Public Health Order.

We do continue to pull over traffic violators. We have marked patrol cars as well as unmarked. We will most times be in uniform, but there are occasions when we will not be. Those times we’re not in a uniform, we will still have a badge and ID. We will always tell you why you were stopped and are not upset if you ask to see our ID. If you ever have a doubt you have been pulled over by someone other than a true police officer take the following steps: If you have already stopped and the person is not answering basic questions to why they stopped you, what agency they work for, not offering ID, and a badge that doesn’t have their agency on it, then roll your window up and call 911.

Prior to stopping if you have a car with flashing lights behind you, but doesn’t look quite right, slow your speed, activate your hazard lights, and call 911 to verify it is an actual police officer. Even if it is not our agency, we have the ability to check if another agency is trying to make a stop in that area. The dispatcher will direct you what to do in the situation. We can then send a law enforcement officer to the scene to check.

Be safe out there, and take precautions to get through this pandemic safely.

As always, safe travels… if it’s absolutely necessary!

By CSP Master Trooper Gary Cutler | Special to the Herald Times