A TOPSHAM POLICE CRUISER was rear-ended Friday on Route 196 near Hamilton Court by a teen driver blinded by the sun, sending the officer to the hospital.

A TOPSHAM POLICE CRUISER was rear-ended Friday on Route 196 near Hamilton Court by a teen driver blinded by the sun, sending the officer to the hospital.

TOPSHAM

A Topsham police officer was hospitalized Friday morning after his vehicle was rear-ended on Route 196 by Hamilton Court.

Officer Troy Garrison was stopped in the outer eastbound lane behind two vehicles that had been involved in a minor crash.

The cruiser, a 2015 Ford Explorer, was flashing its emergency lights when it was struck from behind from a Toyota pickup truck driven by a 17-year-old male from Topsham, according to Police Chief Chris Lewis.

The teen, who was not hurt, told police he had been blinded by the sun and couldn’t see the cruiser until just before the collision.

Garrison was treated and released at Mid Coast Hospital. He will need to be medically cleared before returning to duty.

No charges were issued.

This is the fourth time a Topsham police cruiser has been involved in a crash since August, when Officer Lucas Shirland was struck from behind in his cruiser by the intoxicated driver he’d been searching for on Interstate 295.

In November, Officer Don Cowles was making a U-turn to drive to a crash on Route 196 when he was struck by a van.

Cowles was struck again during a recent storm while waiting to turn at the intersection of Winter Street and Mallett Drive. In that instance, a vehicle traveling too fast for road conditions struck the rear of the cruiser.

State police notes on their website that the No. 1 killer of police officers is motor vehicle crashes.

Lewis said motorists need to be at least 500 feet away from the rear of fire apparatus and 150 feet from any other authorized emergency vehicles running their lights and sirens on the roadway.

When an authorized emergency vehicle approaches with lights and siren on, motorists should pull over to the right as far as practical and clear any intersection, and come to a complete stop until after the emergency vehicle has passed.

Failure to yield is punishable by a minimum of $250 fine.

First responders are trained and follow policies and procedures to stay safe while responding to emergencies, said Lewis. Every cruiser-involved crash is reviewed, and the department tries to learn from and see what else it can change.

“Ninety-five percent of these incidents are rear-end crashes,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the instances of cruisers being struck are relatively few, considering how often police are patrolling the road. However, officers are “leery” about the potential of being struck.

“We’re out there and we’re getting hit,” Lewis said.

AAA OFFERS THESE TIPS for motorists when driving toward the sun:

• Invest in polarized sunglasses to help reduce glare

• Utilize your sun visor to help block out the sun

• Leave more following room as it can be hard to see what the car ahead is doing

• Drive with your headlights on to increase your visibility to other drivers

• Keep your windshield clean, inside and out

• Check your windshield for pitting and cracks

• Avoid storing papers or other items on the dashboard

• If you’re having a difficult time seeing the road, use lane markings to help guide you


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