Motor Vehicle Accident
Driving is a necessity in Montana with its wide-open roads and rural landscape. Many residents of Montana lose their lives in traffic accidents each year, but new data suggests that Montana's highways are becoming safer. According to recent statistics from the Montana Highway Patrol, the highway death count steadily decreased throughout 2018. Experts hope that this trend continues into 2019 and beyond.
According to a recent article in The Missoulian, the death toll on Montana highways is the lowest it has been in nearly 30 years. The Montana Highway Patrol releases a weekly report on crash fatalities for the state, keeping track of data throughout the year.
This data is significant because the last time that Montana had 181 traffic fatalities was in 1989. The lowest death count in Montana history was 162 fatalities in 1949. Deaths on Montana highways peaked at 395 during 1972.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, certain factors increase the risk of traffic fatalities on state highways. In the year-end report, the agency provides crash factor data for accidents that took place between January 1st, 2018 and October 31st, 2018. Out of 144 reported traffic fatalities in 2018:
These factors also contributed to non-fatal crashes during 2018. Out of the 136 reported traffic accidents in 2018:
Based on this limited time frame, all of these factors decreased from the prior year. Alcohol-related traffic deaths decreased by nearly 9% from 2017. Drug-related fatalities saw the largest decrease, with 64% less drug-related car deaths from 2017. Speed-related deaths decreased by approximately 5%, while seatbelt-related deaths only decreased by 2.67%.
This data does not include the crucial time period between November 1st and December 31st, however. The holiday season typically sees a greater spike in traffic-related deaths than any other time of the year. This phenomenon is due to increased travel time for Montana residents, plus a spike in drunk driving on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
The Montana Highway Patrol also includes projected year-end statistics for crash factors. Since the agency has not yet completed many investigations that took place between November 1st and December 31st, this data is based on estimates: The Montana Highway Patrol believes that, with the inclusion of holiday data, the number of alcohol-related fatalities will increase from 51 to 63. As a result, the number of alcohol-related fatalities will be 3.28% higher than in 2017. The number of speed-related deaths will increase from 58 to 80. As a result, the number of speed-related deaths will be 15.94% higher than in 2017. The number of drug-related deaths will increase from 18 to 23. This data still shows a significant decrease from 2017's drug-related deaths by 58.18%. The number of seat belt-related deaths will increase from 73 to 94. This data will put the number of seat belt-related deaths at an increase of 10.59% over 2017.
Staying aware of the driving environment, assigning a designated driver, and using a seatbelt can help Montanans reduce their risk of dying in a traffic accident.
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