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Empty Montana Roads Lead to More Reckless Driving

Staying Safe from Reckless Drivers During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed countless aspects of our lives, including driving. With many local businesses, schools, and offices shut down over the last few months, Montana roads have been exceptionally clear – and based on the latest reports, reckless drivers have now taken full advantage of the situation.

According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), many states saw dramatic increases in reckless driving and speeding shortly after the pandemic began. This deadly trend has only continued to grow in the months since that initial report: In fact, Montana recently saw the deadliest week for driving since the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2018.

As the Great Falls Tribune reported last week, 12 Montana motorists recently died in a five-day stretch of fatal crashes starting on June 12th. While Montana deaths were trending lower than average through the earliest months of the pandemic, that has now changed. In describing the problem, one state highway administrator put it this way: “Drivers that are used to having congested roads are all of a sudden seeing these empty highways in front of them… and they’re taking advantage of it.”

Safety Tips for Avoiding Reckless Drivers

Although you may not be able to avoid every collision with a drunk, speeding, or otherwise reckless driver, there are a few steps you can take to make Montana roads safer during this crisis – and protect yourself from a fatal crash. In interviews with the Montana Highway Patrol and state highway administrators, the Great Falls Tribune found that most public officials attribute the recent deaths to two key problems: Speeding and failing to wear a seatbelt.

As Captain Art Collins of the Montana Highway Patrol noted in the article:

“Everybody wants to get somewhere in a hurry, but speed kills… There's just no way around it. The more speed you have, the more energy that's transferred to the occupants of that vehicle. That's what kills people, that energy transfer."

At Hoyt & Blewett PLLC, our auto and trucking accident attorneys are all too familiar with the true cost of reckless driving, having represented hundreds of victims and their families in personal injury lawsuits resulting from auto and trucking accidents. We wanted to take this opportunity and share a few safety tips and facts for Montana drivers.

To reduce your risk of a crash fatality, it’s important to:

  • Wear a seatbelt, every time. It’s estimated that seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives nationwide in 2017 and that they could have saved an additional 2,500 lives if used across the board. Studies show that wearing a seatbelt can reduce your risk of car accident fatality by up to 50%.
  • Monitor your speeding. Even if you are only speeding by a few miles per hour, it can greatly increase your risk of a fatal car crash, especially when you collide with a reckless driver. Keep an eye on your odometer and find little ways to remind yourself to slow down.
  • Always check your rear and side-view mirrors. Many fatal crashes happen because highway drivers are not checking their mirrors or signaling during a merge. When someone else is speeding, you may not be able to see them in time to avoid a catastrophic collision.

Do you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney? We’re here to help. Call our team at (406) 233-1302 today for a free consultation.