One of the things that makes Montana special for those of us who live here and the many people who visit our state every year is the wide open spaces. You can travel down roads for miles on end without seeing another vehicle — just mountains, land and bison.
However, like all states, we have our share of crashes, and too many of them are fatal. The Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) recently released information about the number of fatal crashes during 2019, and what kind of roads they occurred on. The numbers represent crashes between Jan. 1 and Dec. 23. The MHP also compared the data with the previous year.
While the overall number of crashes was down slightly (from 165 to 163) from 2018, the number for people killed in crashes rose from 178 to 181.
Interestingly, while Montana is known for having some of the highest speed limits in the country, those carrying the fastest vehicles didn’t have most of the fatal crashes. The speed limit for cars and light trucks on interstates is 80 miles per hour. It’s 70 mph for heavy trucks. In the areas around Billings, Missoula and Great Falls, the interstate limit is 65 mph for all vehicles.7
Last year, 22 crashes on interstates resulted in 23 deaths. That’s no small number of course, and high speeds can cause any crash to be fatal. However, far more fatalities have been occurring on primary roads — 78 last year and 80 in 2018. The next deadliest roads were rural ones — with 38 deaths (up from 32 the previous year).
The speed limit for two-lane roads, many of which are in rural areas, is 70 mph during the day for cars and light trucks and 65 mph at night and at all times for heavy trucks. Therefore, even roads where cars have nowhere to go if another driver moves in to their lane traveling the wrong directions can be hit at a high speed.
Speed isn’t a factor in all fatal crashes. A captain with the MHP said that most fatalities result from drivers being under the influence and people not wearing seat belts.
If you or a loved one was injured or worse by a drunk driver or one who was at fault for any reason, it’s essential to make sure you get the compensation you need and deserve.