Highway Patrol sees few people on the roads

Chances are you didn’t do any more driving than absolutely necessary today.

But first responders have no choice but to stay on the roads – no matter the weather.

Tim Olson hopped into a state trooper’s vehicle to tag along for this story.

On a day as snowy, windy, and icy as this, Lieutenant Steve Fischer’s favorite sight is an empty interstate.

“You have people that are probably staying home, staying away from long trips, and hopefully will plan those for another day.”
Lieutenant Fischer spent Monday cruising up and down I-94 near Bismarck (at a sensible speed) ready and willing to help motorists who lose the battle with mother nature.

“We’re obviously looking for vehicles that are stalled on the road, in the ditch,” added Fischer. 

He’s been with the Highway Patrol since 1999 – so he’s no stranger to North Dakota winters. Even so, he says days like this can wear you out.

“These are still mentally taxing days. Watching our speed. Watching traffic around us. Watching weather and road conditions,” said Fischer.

That last bit is a big part of the job on a snow day. Here, he’s just gotten off the phone with the NDDOT, to recommend issuing a travel alert for southwestern North Dakota due to low visibility.

“Better to be proactive rather than reactive to these types of things,” he said. 

Lieutenant Fischer says he’s just one cog in a giant machine whose mission is to keep us safe in the snow.

“No matter if it’s a city police, sheriff’s office, highway patrol, department of transportation, it absolutely is a hand-in-hand effort to keep the traveling public safe. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work and phone calls that happen as a result of that.”

All things considered, it’s been a quiet day for the Highway Patrol.

In the hour that we rode-along with Lieutenant Fischer, troopers in the Bismarck region responded to exactly zero accidents.

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