TRAFFIC SAFETY: Montana program aims to prevent traffic fatalities

April 28, 2017

Since drivers in the state are more at risk for traffic-related fatalities, MDT is aiming to bring the number of traffic fatalities down to zero.

New data from the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) shows traffic fatalities and serious injuries are declining on Montana roads. So far this year, there have been 36 traffic-related deaths compared to 52 at the same time last year.

In 2014, MDT launched Vision Zero, its mission to bring the number of traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries to zero.

Department officials say Montana drivers are more at risk for traffic-related fatalities than drivers in other states. Depending on the time of day and location of the incident, emergency services may not be able to reach victims in traffic-related crashes for a matter of hours. This is a large reason why the state is focusing on prevention—MDT wants to stop crashes from happening in the first place.

Impaired drivers also are a concern for transportation officials, and the department is working to track impaired drivers in order to decrease traffic incidents.

Despite a decline in overall fatalities on Montana roads, the state has consistently been at the top of lists using data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration when it comes to per capita driving under the influence (DUI) citations and fatalities as a result of DUIs. The MDT data from 2015 shows 118 fatal crashes in the state have involved an impaired driver.

In the meantime, the department is using other tactics to make roadways safer. Because roadway departures and intersection crashes are the top cause of concern for MDT, new roundabouts are being installed to force drivers to slow down at intersections.

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