Updated: 01/15/2014 5:46 PM KSTP.com By: Josh Rosenthal
It's been a busy start of the year for the technicians at White Bear Lincoln. That's because it's been a dangerous 2014 for Minnesota State Troopers.
"It's probably gonna need like a body panel, a rear bumper, a deck lid," said technician Greg Leaf while standing behind a recently dented State Patrol squad car.
After having between 17 and 24 winter weather-related crashes every year since 2010, State Patrol squad cars have already been hit seven times since Jan. 1. That includes a crash on I-94 near the St. Croix rest stop that was recorded on a traffic camera.
"By the time they realized there were emergency vehicles on the side of the road, it was too late," Lt. Eric Roeske said of the wreck, which left a State Trooper with non-life threatening injuries.
The car itself will be off the road for at least a week while it gets fixed. Still, Roeske says the situation could've been a lot worse, explaining, "you know any vehicle at freeway speeds hurling out of control at you is obviously going to be a life-threatening situation."
On top of that, troopers say crashes run them between $80,000 and $100,000 per year, just in equipment costs. They recoup some of that through insurance, but not all of it.
So far in 2014, two state troopers have been injured in crashes. Both are expected to be able to return to work soon.
Troopers say the best way to prevent crashes from happening is to take it slow and focus on the road.