Through October 31, North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers are working overtime to enhance safety in construction zones. Road construction involves reduced speed zones, lanes for traffic, and lane width, requiring heightened awareness from motorists.
The public can expect enhanced enforcement during peak traffic and when workers are present. All traffic laws will be strictly enforced. Citations will be issued for following too close, speeding, passing in a no passing zone, and improper lane changes, as well as other violations.
Last year, troopers issued 896 citations during construction zone overtime, including 542 speed-related citations and 130 seat belt and child restraint violations.
Motorists should slow down, increase following distance, and be aware of construction workers and other vehicles while traveling in construction zones. These actions will help ensure safety for both highway workers and motorists.
Troopers worked 68.5 hours of overtime from January 2 to March 13 on U.S. Highway 85 to strictly enforce crash-causing driving behaviors including right-of-way violations, speeding, seat belt violations, and DUIs. Troopers issued 105 citations, including the following violations:
After positive feedback about the program, it has been extended to June 1. Troopers will strictly enforce all traffic laws to increase public safety.
A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) will arrive in Bismarck on April 12, 2015, to examine all aspects of the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s policy and procedures, management, operations, and support services, Colonel Michael Gerhart announced today.
Verification by the team that the North Dakota Highway Patrol meets the Commission’s state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to retain accreditation – a highly prized recognition of public safety professional excellence, Colonel Gerhart said.
As a part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to a public information session on Monday, April 13, 2015, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. CDT at the North Dakota Law Enforcement Academy, 1320 Schafer Street, Bismarck ND.
If for some reason an individual cannot speak at the public information session but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he/she may do so by telephone. The public may call (844) 591-9943 on Monday, April 13, 2015, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. CDT.
Telephone comments are limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA’s standards. A copy of the standards is available at North Dakota Highway Patrol Headquarters in Bismarck. The agency contact is Captain Norman C. Ruud, (701) 328-2455.
Persons wishing to offer written comments about the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s ability to meet the standards for accreditation are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia, 20155-6693.
“The North Dakota Highway Patrol has to comply with 354 standards in order to maintain accredited status,” Colonel Gerhart said. “Accreditation assures the public that the North Dakota Highway Patrol is committed to our core mission – to make a difference every day by providing high quality law enforcement services to keep North Dakota safe and secure.”
The CALEA Program Manager for the North Dakota Highway Patrol is Mr. Tim Baysinger. He said the assessment team is composed of public safety practitioners from similar, but out-of-state agencies. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be observed.
The assessors are Tim Hazlette, retired Kentucky State Police Colonel and Captain Diane Russo currently with the Florida Highway Patrol. Once the CALEA Assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full CALEA Commission, which will then decide if the agency is to be granted accredited status.
Accreditation is for three years, during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.
For more information regarding the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., please write the Commission at 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia, 20155-6693; or call (800) 368-3757 or (703) 352-4225; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol has completed the investigation of a fatal school bus crash by Larimore in early January.
On January 5 at 3:35 p.m., a Larimore Public School bus was traveling north on 36th Street Northeast, half a mile east of Larimore. The driver was dropping students off at their homes. The school bus approached a railroad crossing and came to an abrupt stop with its front end over the railroad tracks.
The school bus was struck by a westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe locomotive near the front passenger side entrance door, causing severe front-end damage. Two occupants, the bus driver, 62-year-old Max Danner, and a passenger, 17-year-old Cassidy Sandstrom, were ejected and sustained fatal injuries. Ms. Sandstrom was seated in the rear passenger side seat of the bus prior to impact.
Fourteen occupants were on the bus at the time of the crash, 10 of which were transported to Altru Hospital by ambulance for treatment. The train’s two occupants were not injured.
The BNSF train, consisting of 47 intermodal rail cars, was traveling 43 mph at the time of the crash. There is a speed limit of 60 mph on that section of rail. The train’s whistle was blown approximately 1,300 feet before reaching the intersection and several times as it approached the intersection. The school bus came to a final stop with its front end over the westbound railroad tracks. The bus was stopped on the tracks for 1.5 to 2 seconds prior to being struck by the train. There were no overhead warning lights displayed on the bus and the front service door was closed. The railroad crossing was marked with yellow warning signs before the intersection and crossbuck signs with stop signs at the intersection.
An autopsy was performed on Mr. Danner by the Grand Forks County Medical Examiner’s Office. “Mr. Danner died of injuries sustained in the crash”, stated Dr. Mark Koponen, deputy coroner. “Mr. Danner did have a significant heart condition, but it did not play a role in the crash. There was no evidence that a medical event was occurring at the time of the crash.”
The Engine Control Module (ECM) from the school bus was retrieved and sent to the Wisconsin State Patrol for a download analysis. The download of the ECM showed no mechanical deficiencies. A post-crash inspection of the school bus was also conducted, showing no mechanical deficiencies. The equipment was in very good condition, working properly, and well-maintained.
A search warrant obtained by the NDHP allowed the viewing of footage recorded at the front of the BNSF locomotive. The footage showed the bus approaching the railroad tracks. There was significant braking just before the tracks, bringing the school bus to a complete stop with the front end of the school bus over the tracks. The driver appeared to be in an upright position and there was no movement observed inside the front end of the school bus.
Interviews with all school bus occupants were completed and support the investigation results.
Prior to the collision, witnesses stated the bus was driving normally through the neighborhood. The school bus was met by a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction south of the crash location. Mr. Danner had exchanged waves with the passing motorist.
The investigation into this case is complete, and there are no anticipated or pending criminal charges.
Last year proved to be another busy year on North Dakota roadways. Troopers made 1,677 DUI arrests and 1,049 drug-related arrests. Lack of seat belt use continued to contribute to injuries and deaths. Fifty-five percent of fatal crash victims were unrestrained. Preliminary numbers show 136 people died on roadways throughout the state in 122 fatal crashes compared to 148 victims and 133 fatal crashes in 2013.
Troopers issued 9,320 seat belt citations throughout the year. More than 15,000 overtime hours were worked to enhance traffic safety. Focused on education efforts, troopers gave 341 safety presentations around the state.
More than 262,000 commercial motor vehicle permits were issued in 2014. Motor carrier troopers and inspectors participated in speed, right-of-way, seat belt and vehicle size and weight enforcement blitzes to enhance commercial motor vehicle safety. More than 12,500 driver-vehicle examinations were administered to identify truck drivers and vehicles that posed safety risks. Committed to protecting infrastructure, troopers assessed approximately $1.25 million in overload violation fees.
In fiscal year 2014, New Entrant Program coordinators completed 263 safety audits with 27 failing. This program assesses companies that apply for USDOT numbers, with the goal of enhancing the transportation industry’s safety.
Motorists are encouraged to make safe, responsible driving decisions. Wearing seat belts, slowing down, choosing designated drivers, and overtaking with caution are common sense measures that will help keep North Dakota roads safe.