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As you take to the roads in the Treasure State, most people are more concerned with a grizzly bear sighting than a grizzly traffic incident. But auto fatalities are far more prevalent than bear attacks. In fact, the roads in 2021 were some of the deadliest on record. With fatal car crashes on the rise in Montana, it’s important to keep safety top of mind as you hit the open road. Here’s what’s going on with highway incidents in Montana.
According to the Montana Department of Transporation (MDT), there were 240 fatalities in 2021, an increase of 14.8% from the year before. In 2020, Montana roads saw 213 deaths. A single traffic fatality is too many, but the uptick is worth taking note of, and responding to.
MDT reported an increase in risky behavior, like speeding, driving without a seat belt and driving under the influence. By February of 2021, a full 50% of fatal accidents that year so far resulted from someone driving under the influence. By the end of the year, speed had emerged as a major factor. These dangerous driving acts don’t just impact the driver of the vehicle, or the person making bad choices. They can also hurt innocent bystanders, other drivers, and passengers in other vehicles. Montana’s sometimes snow-covered, or deer-filled, roads certainly don’t help.
There isn’t a single cause that officials can point to that explains the uptick in fatalities. As new residents and more visitors come into the state, more cars on the road lead to more opportunities for a crash. And the documented rise in risky driving certainly doesn’t make conditions any better.
Slow down, buckle up, and have a plan for a safe ride home if you’re imbibing. And even as troopers and sheriff departments increase patrols during more dangerous holidays like New Years and July 4, other drivers can play a role too. By reporting highway hazards, you can help keep the roads safer for everyone. That might mean calling dispatch for a deer carcass in the road, or dialing 911 to report a suspected drunk driver.
You can also call MDT directly with emergency updates at 1-855-647-3777, or fill out the online form if you see road hazards along your drive. Downed trees, roadblocks, or gaping potholes around blind corners won’t cause harm if they’re reported and addressed promptly. The MDT app lets you monitor changing conditions from your smartphone. Just be sure to give that job to a passenger, or pull over for a quick check, rather than driving distracted.
When traffic fatalities can’t be stopped before tragedy strikes, we’re all the worse for it. It’s rare for car crashes to be true accidents – fault usually lies somewhere. If you or someone you love has been impacted by a car crash, and you’re struggling to find justice, the skilled legal professionals at Cok Kinzler can help you out. Reach out for a free 30 minute consultation, and find out more about your rights to restitution.