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Community coalition steps up to stop drunk driving in Otter Tail County

Despite the work of many organizations, Otter Tail County continues to be among the 13 deadliest counties in Minnesota when it comes to impaired driving.

(Adobe Stock Art)
(Adobe Stock Art)

Despite the work of many organizations, Otter Tail County continues to be among the 13 deadliest counties in Minnesota when it comes to impaired driving.

"This is something we need to address on an ongoing basis," said County Commissioner John Lindquist of Dalton on March 12.

That day Lindquist and county board members heard from Safe Communities Coalition Coordinator Jane Neubauer.

She said the mission of the organization is to raise awareness of traffic safety issues and to develop tools that can be used to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents in Minnesota.

"We simply need to persuade people to make better choices," Neubauer said. "Impaired driving is something we struggle with."

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To that end, Lindquist pointed to progress with many organizations organizing designated drivers for many events.

"I belong to an organization that provides free pop to designated drivers during social gatherings," Lindquist said. "We need to address the issue of DWI and help prevent injuries and deaths."

Lindquist said that Otter Tail County being among the larger counties geographically in the state is no excuse for being among the 13 deadliest counties.

"It's well documented that we as a county are larger in size than the state of Rhode Island and that Otter Tail County's paved roads total 1,062 miles," he said. "People need to slow down and consider the many curves along roadways through lakes country."

Neubauer said county residents can't blame the DWI issue on summer tourism alone.

"We need to look in the mirror and face facts that people who live right here, all year long, have issues with impaired driving," she said.

County departments are among those working to make county roadways safer. They include county public health, the county highway department, county sheriff office and others.

The Safe Communities Coalition is receiving state grant dollars to initiate programs that curtail drunken driving, with the help of law enforcement and others. Distraction free driving initiatives also are in the works.

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"We as a county board will also do whatever we can to address the issue of impaired driving and help make it safer to drive on our county roadways," Lindquist said.

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTY
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