HELENA – From Nov. 19 to Nov. 26, 12 people died on Montana highways and interstates, according to Montana Highway Patrol.
The number of fatalities are more than five times higher than the last three years for the holiday week, with only two fatalities a year in 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Troopers believe winter road conditions were a significant factor but noted that fatal crashes are not abnormal for the year.
“We’re still doing okay, but it’s sad even when there’s one fatality,” said MHP Sgt. Ben Havron. “With the winter conditions, we just recommend people drive safely and slow down.”
This year is still below average for highway fatalities for the state, with 149 fatal crashes and 161 fatalities. In 2017, there were 156 fatal crashes and 173 fatalities and in 2016 there were 166 fatal crashes and 183 fatalities.
Havron urged divers to make sure their vehicles are prepared for the winter, check road conditions before driving and always wear a seat belt.
“The seatbelt keeps you inside the vehicle and structurally you’re a lot safer inside of there, in a typical rollover crash than you are getting thrown around. Seatbelt use saves lives. It really does,” said Havron.
The week around Fourth of July was the deadliest so far in 2018 with 14 deaths.
MHP caution drivers to plan ahead any long distance travel and never drink and drive.
Story by John Riley, MTN News