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Gail Haller, Brandon’s mother, took photos of Brandon’s car the morning of his accident. Brandon walked away from the scene with just minor injuries. (Submitted photo)

Surviving a bad crash: don’t make reckless choices

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News Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470 http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/WEBHaller%20crash.jpg?itok=Aljl-bMR
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Surviving a bad crash: don’t make reckless choices
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Brandon Haller, 17, of Park Rapids, blacked out in the moments the car he was driving cart wheeled end-on-end three to four times before landing in a country ditch.

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The accident occurred Father’s Day morning, June 16. Brandon was returning wooden benches that had been borrowed for a graduation party the previous day.

Admittedly, driving on a dirt road perhaps a bit too confident for his abilities and too fast for conditions, Brandon believes he’s been given a second chance at life.

By the looks of the totaled Oldsmobile Intrigue heap he had been driving, the fact that he suffered only a concussion, lacerations and a few bruises is short of a miracle.

“I can’t believe I’m alive,” he says.

He wants his story to be a cautionary example for other drivers who may be making reckless choices while behind the wheel.

The need to speed

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says that often times younger drivers feel the need to speed, accounting for nearly 60 percent of speed-related deaths the past three years. In comparison, drivers 65 and older were involved in just five percent of the speed-related fatalities.

It’s important to note that at least five people were killed in Minnesota during the Fourth of July travel period and approximately 560 were arrested for DWI, according to the DPS Office of Traffic Safety.

The DPS is stepping-up speed enforcement through July 21 to prevent speed-related crashes. Driving at unsafe and illegal speeds is a leading crash death factor and accounts for around 80 traffic deaths annually – 243 deaths in the last three years.

Dangers and consequences of speeding

Summer is the deadliest period of the year largely due to motorists traveling at faster, unsafe speeds with clear roads giving drivers a false sense of security. Officials remind motorists that the faster the speed, the harder and more violent the crash. Speeding leads to:

n Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.

n Increased stopping distance.

n Less time available for driver response to avoid a crash.

n Increased crash severity leading to more numerous and severe injuries.

Minnesota’s DPS Office of Traffic Safety is an anchoring partner of Hubbard County’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program and “Safe Roads” grant. The primary vision of the TZD program statewide is to create a safe driving culture with zero road fatalities.

Speeding is one message that holds dangers and consequences.

It is important to note that all motorists should keep a three-second following distance to allow for safe stopping and reaction to other vehicles. It takes more than the length of a football field to stop when traveling at 60 miles per hour.

It took a miracle

Brandon’s mother, Gail Haller, refers to that morning as “Angels on Overtime.”

She’s grateful Brandon was wearing his seat belt and that the air bag gave him the protection his body needed to bear multiple impacts. As for the hows or whys the driver’s side door remained intact while the rest of the car was mutilated by multiple rollovers and a  stop sign slicing through the front bumper, well – those questions shall remain a mystery.

It took a miracle, Brandon says, but he has changed his driving habits since the accident. He encourages drivers, especially young, inexperienced drivers to stay safe. He also wouldn’t haul items like the benches inside the vehicle. The concussion he sustained came when he was struck from behind by one.

“It’s not just you that things like this can happen to,” he says. “Everyone, your family and love ones, is impacted by choices that you make.”

He’s glad no one else was riding with him that morning, and thinks about life more.

With his life still ahead of him, Brandon enters his senior year of high school entertaining career possibilities in geospatial intelligence or psychology. Special interests in theater are also a passion. He knows he is lucky to still have those options having walked away from the scene of his accident.

Anyone interested in learning more about Hubbard County Towards Zero Deaths Safe Roads Coalition, please contact Raeann Mayer, St. Joseph’s Area Health Services Community Health Manager at 218-237-7474.

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