OTC ranks 3rd in teen fatalities [UPDATED]Published 10:21am Wednesday, October 9, 2013 Updated 12:22pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Otter Tail County ranks the third-highest in the state when it comes to teen traffic fatalities from 2008-2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
During the five-year period, six teens, between the ages of 13 and 19, were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those six, no one wore a seat belt. There were a total of eight teen fatalities in crashes, a figure that includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
“The vast majority of those are county residents,” said Sheriff Brian Schlueter. “It’s our neighbors, our families, our kids. So it makes it even more tragic.”
Otter Tail County leads the out-state areas and only follows two metro counties, Hennepin (11 total teen fatalities) and Dakota (10 total teen fatalities) when it comes to teen fatalities. A small percentage of occupants in motor vehicle fatalities in those two counties had their seat belts on.
Minnesota saw 203 total teen fatalities during this time, with 165 of those being motor vehicle occupants. Otter Tail County represents just under 4 percent of each category. Of those, only 67 were belted in, or 40.6 percent.
None of the teen deaths from these statistics happened in Fergus Falls, but police put its highest priority on key areas of traffic enforcement that can contribute to injuries and fatalities in crashes, according to Lt. Terry Eldien. Those areas include driving under the influence, distracted driving (like texting, for example), speed and seat belts.
“Those are the four areas that are the most dangerous,” Eldien said. “When we hear these statistics, I think in the city of Fergus Falls we’re already focusing on those driving behaviors.”
It’s not just teen deaths that have stand-out numbers either. From 2008 to 2012, Otter Tail County ranked eighth-highest in the state when it came to total deaths and alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths. With 11 alcohol-related unbelted motor vehicle occupant deaths, Otter Tail County was second only to Hennepin County, which had 25.
Five alcohol-related unbelted motor vehicle occupant deaths in Otter Tail County in 2012 alone was the most of any county in the state.