OTC Sheriff’s office sends out safe driving reminder

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and the Otter Tail County Safe Communities Coalition will join law enforcement agencies and community partners

nationwide in April to remind drivers about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.

This annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) distracted driving high-visibility enforcement and enhanced education efforts. The distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through enforcement, public awareness, and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.

According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, from 2016-2020 more than 39,000 crashes were distracted driving related. During that same time frame, distracted driving contributed to an average of 31 deaths and 192 life-changing injuries a year on Minnesota roads.

“Every driver in Otter Tail County has a role in this effort,” said Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office Detective Allen Mekash. “Distracted driving is an increasing habit that is putting everyone at risk. We want drivers to focus on the most important task: hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.” The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Otter Tail County Safe Communities Coalition’s goal with this campaign is simple – save lives by getting drivers to remember that the consequences of distracted driving are serious and could be deadly.

Drive safe every trip

Join us in driving distracted free. If you are the driver, set an example for safe driving experiences:

• If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.

• Ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.

• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.

• Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

• Adjust your mirrors and set your music before you drive.

• Avoid eating while driving, if you need to eat, pull over and park your car to finish your meal. Distracted driving is dangerous. No text or post is worth ruining someone’s day — or taking a life.

For more information about distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov.