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Forest lake community seeks to address safety concerns on Hwy 61

The safety of a particular section of Highway 61 in Forest Lake recently become the subject of discussion following a fatal accident last month which left a man dead. In particular, the speed limit on the highway has been called into question. At present, the speed limit is set at 55 mph, but those in favor of reducing the speed limit say that curves, blind spots and traffic levels make the current limit unsafe.

There has been pressure put on the Minnesota Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit, and a City Council meeting last month meeting considered the issue. Speed may not ultimately be the biggest culprit, though. Some officers believe that distracted driving is the real problem, and data from MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol seems to support this contention.

Distracted driving, of course, is among the biggest challenges in highway safety nowadays. Reducing the occurrence of distracted driving is not easy, partly because it is difficult to monitor such behavior. Unsafe cellphone use, including both texting and talking, is a particular problem, and not just among younger drivers.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, all Minnesota drivers are prohibited from dealing with electronic messages—composing, reading, sending—or utilizing the Internet both while the vehicle is in motion and when it is part of traffic. Special penalties apply to violation of this law

More broadly, all drivers can be ticketed whenever they operate a vehicle in a reckless or careless manner. Those who are harmed by such a driver have the right to seek compensation in personal injury litigation.

Source: Forest Lake Times, “Highway 97: Dangerous road or dangerous drivers?,” Ryan Howard, October 29, 2014. 

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