Ask a Trooper: What do you do when another vehicle is coming at you?

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo
Minnesota State Patrol (Courtesy photo)

Editor's note: New editions of the "Ask the Trooper" column are on hiatus by the Minnesota State Patrol. Following are questions and answers from previous columns in the Perham Focus archives.

Question: With some recent wrong way head-on crashes in the area, can you provide some tips on what to do if you see another vehicle coming at you in your lane?

Answer: When we receive a call that a vehicle is traveling the wrong way, we treat this as an emergency and respond to the area as quickly as possible. Our goal is to get the vehicle stopped before a crash occurs. We have investigated far too many head-on crashes where occupants have lost their lives or were seriously injured due to a vehicle going the wrong way.

Drivers end up going the wrong way on a road for many reasons: driving under the influence, confused, fatigued, not knowing the area or are unfamiliar with the road or they may be suicidal.

If you ever encounter a wrong-way vehicle coming at you:


  • Slow down and move to the right as far as you can.
  • Stop on the right if you have time.
  • Be aware of vehicles behind you if you need to break hard.
  • Try not to swerve off the road or into other lanes at high speeds.
  • If you have time, honk your horn, flash your headlights and activate your hazard lights.
  • If stopped, call 911 and report your location and a description of the vehicle.
  • Never turn around and follow or chase a wrong-way driver, as it will put yourself and others in danger.

Get in the habit of driving in the right lane if you are on a two-lane same direction road, because wrong-way drivers tend to be in your left lane.
This is one example of why we encourage people to wear seatbelts, avoid distractions while driving, never drive while impaired and obey all traffic laws, as it could save your life if you ever encounter a wrong-way driver.

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