The Montana Highway Patrol’s mission is to make the state’s roadways as safe as possible for motorists. But they can’t be everywhere at once, and they can’t prevent every car accident. So far this year 88 people have lost their lives on Montana roads. This compares to 111 traffic fatalities in the state last year.
The Highway Patrol divides the state into districts for administrative purposes. This year, the Highway Patrol district with the most fatalities is the one that includes Butte and Helena, where 19 people have died so far in 2014. The district that includes Bozeman has the second highest number of fatalities this year, with 14.
According to the Highway Patrol, of this year’s 88 fatal accident victims, 69 were not using seat belts. Speed was determined to be a factor in 31 of the deaths, and alcohol in 25. The patrol says distracted driving is also a leading cause of crashes in the state.
When a fatal accident occurs, the Highway Patrol looks at where they are patrolling, in order to have a presence in the highest-risk areas. They also maintain a presence in high-traffic areas.
The loss of a loved one in a fatal auto accident is a devastating blow to any family. In addition to the emotional grief there is also the potential for financial loss, especially if the car accident victim was a breadwinner. When the accident was caused by a negligent driver, Montana law allows the victim’s next of kin to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages. A lawsuit won’t bring their loved one back, but it can help the family recover financially from their loss.
Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “Montana Highway Patrol: Bozeman district second-highest fatality rate in state,” Whitney Bermes, July 17, 2014