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Be safe on county highways over Labor Day

Law enforcement agencies across Minnesota, and in Otter Tail County, are putting an emphasis on keeping area residents safe during the latter weeks of August as part of the extra DWI enforcement campaign that started last week and continues through Sept. 5.

We are pleased that the Perham police, along with the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department, are participating in a statewide Safe and Sober campaign, which puts a special emphasis on apprehending drunk drivers.

Of course, officers focus on safety every day, but extra patrols will be driving our highways to weed out those who risk their lives and the lives of others by drinking and driving.

This is a particularly good time to recognize that danger, because the holiday season is marked by an abundance of gatherings and parties, at many of which alcohol is available. The opportunities to drive drunk abound, even for people who would seldom normally find themselves in that position.

Despite the laws, the enforcement and the tragic stories, drunk driving remains a serious safety concern.

Recent history indicates that August is the worst month for DWI offenders. In the last five years, there were 2,509 arrests. On average drunk driving will be a factor in one fatality and alcohol will be involved in two life-changing injuries during the Labor Day holiday period, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Every year, in Minnesota an average of 253 life-changing injuries involve alcohol-related crashes; and over the last five years, 17 percent of fatal crashes over the Labor Day weekend were drunk driving-related. In Minnesota, there were 462 drunk driving-related traffic deaths.

When you consider all the people driving on our highways, that number may seem insignificant – unless someone you love is a casualty of a drunk driver – then the number becomes personal and unacceptable.

So, let’s all just be careful over the Labor Day holiday so we are around for the next holiday with family and friends.

The opinions expressed in a Focus Editorial are those of the editorial board and may not represent the personal opinion of any one person.