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Farmington police will target driving basics

Farmington police are cracking down on poor, distracted and aggressive driving.

Patrol officers have been told to focus on what police chief Brian Lindquist calls “the basics” of driving a motor vehicle — stopping at stop signs, obeying the speed limit, keeping a proper distance behind the vehicle in front of you — and they’ll hand out tickets to those they find breaking those fundamental laws of driving.

The police department isn’t hard up for ticket revenue, Lindquist said. In fact, the PD receives very little revenue off the tickets that are issued. Lindquist’s focus on the rules of the road comes from a desire to minimize accidents.

“I think, as a society, we have grown impatient and life is fast. Life is extremely fast, and I think this has led to a lot of very bad driving habits on the road,” Lindquist said.

Cell phone use while driving tops his list of habits he wants to stop. While there has been much focus nationwide on not texting and driving, Lindquist points out that talking on cell phones can also make it harder to focus on the speed limit or signaling turns. Even using a hands-free device is distracting, because drivers are listening to their conversations and not necessarily focusing on the traffic around them.

“We have become a society of drivers who weave all over the place. Distracted drivers, a lot of times, mimic drunk drivers, in that they do a lot of those same things as drunk drivers when they’re talking on a cell phone,” he said.

His list does not stop with the cell phone use. He said officers will be watching for drivers who speed up to try to make a light before it turns red, and they’ll be looking for those who fail to stop at stop signs or who follow too closely behind another vehicle.

Even the use of signals — or the lack thereof — has become a problem, Lindquist said.

“People have lost the identity of what a turn signal is supposed to be, but it is required by state statute that you have to signal to other drivers of your intent. That means a turn signal. As car drivers, you are required to use your signal indicator to inform others of your intent,” he said.

Lindquist said officers will watch for aggressive drivers, or those who are tailgating or flashing lights at the vehicles in front of them. And he urges drivers to drive the speed limit. Even though some may think it is safer to go slightly slower than the posted speed, that actually can lead to more aggressive behavior by other drivers, and can also lead to more accidents.

Lindquist knows this increased attention to driving habits may seem like police are just looking for something to do. But that’s far from the case. His decision to crack down on driving basics is entirely to keep residents safe, he said.

“It’s gotten to the point where the driving habits of people have deteriorated to the point that I think it’s a problem,” Lindquist said. “Driving a car is one of the most important, and dangerous, things you can do. You need to be totally aware of what you’re doing in a car. It’s a serious business. People die and get hurt because other people aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing behind the wheel of a car.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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