Local authorities remind motorists to give emergency personnel space on roads
By Chad Koenen
An accident that could have ended in tragedy is serving as a reminder of the importance of slowing down when approaching flashing lights.
Last Wednesday, Pete Wallevand, owner of Pete’s Amoco in Henning, was winching a car on a wrecker call in the ditch north of Clitherall when another vehicle hit his tow truck head on. The accident occurred on County Road 5 north of Clitherall.
Wallevand said he was running the controls on the side of his tow truck and was just about ready to head out when his tow truck jumped back about 5 feet from the impact of the crash. While Wallevand said the other driver saw the flashing lights from the tow truck he wasn’t able to slow down in time and hit the tow truck.
During that specific call, as well as several others over the winter, Wallevand said people did not slow down when approaching flashing lights. The unsafe speeds when coming up to a tow truck, police car, ambulance, fire truck and more, could result in a serious crash. Fortunately, neither the driver of the vehicle or Wallevand were seriously hurt.
Henning Police and Fire Chief Mike Helle said it is important to drive to the conditions of the road and weather. Even during the summer, he said driving conditions don’t always warrant going the speed limit, especially when flashing lights are in the distance.
“If the road is slippery, wet or full of snow, slow down. Just because it is posted 55 or 60 doesn’t mean you have to drive it.”Mike Helle, Henning Police and Fire Chief
In fact, Helle said last week’s crash is another reminder of the importance of slowing down when approaching flashing lights as the driver of the vehicle may not know exactly what is going on and is waiting on the scene. He also said it is important to move over a lane if possible to give emergency personnel more space when responding to a call.
Another important tip is to slow down ahead of time and give other drivers space in case they need to stop suddenly.
“Just giving each other a little bit of space could be the difference between you going home and not going home,” said Helle. “Slowing down or moving over for that vehicle only takes seconds off your commute.