The number of people on the roads increases as the temperatures in Montana rise. Tourists, people taking summer road trips, and utility vehicles with construction workers fill Montana’s rural and urban roadways this time of year. Unfortunately, more people on the road translate to a higher numbers of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Recently, headlines have flooded the local news in Billings, reporting accidents such as the fatal truck crash on South Frontage Road and the string of 10 deaths over the course of just four days in Montana. Learn how to keep yourself and your family safe in light of this sudden increase in local car accidents. Before you hit the road on your next trip, review these safety tips. It could mean the difference between life and death this summer.

Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time

Lack of preparedness for traffic, construction projects, detours, and weather conditions can result in a preventable car accident down the road. Avoid many different hazards simply by preparing yourself for the journey ahead – especially if a vacation is taking you somewhere you’ve never driven before. Research what to expect in terms of weather, roadway conditions, and traffic congestion before leaving your house. Then, ready yourself and your vehicle for what lies ahead. If the weather is looking particularly nasty, consider staying home instead.

Keep Your Car in Prime Condition

Don’t let a busy summer get in the way of regular vehicle maintenance. Continue to check the important elements of your car regularly and before long trips. These include oil level, tire pressure, wiper fluid, antifreeze, and brakes. Undergo any necessary repairs before heading out on the open road. Otherwise, equipment breakdowns and malfunctions could leave you stranded on the side of the road in an unfamiliar place – or even a car accident.

Eliminate Driver Distractions

Distracted driving is a huge hazard on Montana’s roads. In 2016 alone, distracted drivers took at least 3,450 lives throughout the U.S. Simple acts such as waiting to text could have prevented the majority of these deaths. Reduce the odds of causing an accident while increasing your ability to notice changing roadway conditions and react to them promptly by eliminating distractions. This can include:

  • Food and beverages
  • Cell phone use of all kinds
  • Fiddling with a car radio
  • GPS systems or maps
  • Personal grooming objects
  • Passengers in the vehicle with you

Do what you must to avoid distraction, including enacting a no-chatting rule for passengers or putting your cell phone in the trunk while you drive. Distracted driving could not only cause an accident that injures or kills you or someone else – it can also result in liability for the damages you cause. Focus on the road to keep everyone safe.

Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a technique in which drivers learn how to expect the unexpected. Instead of assuming everyone on the road will obey traffic laws and keep you safe, assume the opposite. Expect drivers to break the rules, ignore the right-of-way, speed limits, and crash into you. Then, drive in a way to defend yourself against these possibilities. Pay attention to everyone around you as your drive.

Always be aware of your surroundings. Look ahead at the road in front of you. Be constantly vigilant, alert, and ready to take action in case something changes. Control your speed and be ready to hit the brakes at all times. You can’t control what other drivers will do, but you can control how you drive. Defensive driving can help keep you safe from the negligent and reckless drivers you will inevitably encounter in Montana.

Don’t become a car accident statistic in Montana. Keep yourself, your passengers, and other roadway users safe by practicing these safe-driving tips.