Like most citizens across the nation, residents in Montana rely on motor vehicles to get around. Whether it is their personal vehicle, company car or they car pool, automobiles are an effective way to get from one place to another. And while there are endless benefits associated with motor vehicles, there are countless risks linked to them as well. A relatively safe vehicle could become a deadly piece of machinery as soon as a driver becomes distracted, reckless, intoxicated or negligent.

And while serious and fatal car accidents are a concern in all states across the United States, a recent report suggests that Montana is the state with one of the highest motor vehicle fatality rates in the nation. This conclusion is based on a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was just released.

In 2016 thus far, 85 reported fatalities have occurred on Montana streets and roads. According to the Montana Highway Patrol, the vast majority of these crashes involved just one vehicle, emphasizing that most of the victims were not buckled in and were ejected from their vehicles when they rolled. Of the 85 reported fatalities, only 17 of the victims were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Moreover, preliminary data suggests that 18 of these crashes were related to alcohol use while 13 were related to drug use.

Many ask why the rate of fatal automobile collisions is so high in the state. One reasons is that Montana law does not support some of the proven safety policies implemented in other states. For example, in Montana, it is illegal for authorities to set up sobriety checkpoints to apprehend drunk drivers. And while Montana law requires drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt, it is currently not a primary offense; therefore, police cannot pull a driver over for noncompliance.

While individuals and drivers can do their part to prevent serious and fatal accidents by wearing seatbelts and not drinking and driving, this does not protect them from negligent drivers on the road. If a negligent or reckless driver seriously injures a person, it is important to understand there are legal recourses available. Victims could hold a negligent driver responsible for the injuries, losses and damages caused by the crash.

Source:, “Montana a dangerous place to drive,” July 16, 2016