DOJ: News Release

MHP Colonel: Stay Safe as 2002 Comes to a Close

HELENA – As drivers head into a couple weeks of winter holiday traveling, Col. Shawn Driscoll of the Montana Highway Patrol once again reminded Montanans to take steps and stay safe on the roads.

“Seatbelts and child restraints save lives and are the best way to reduce the severity of injury,” Driscoll said. “With the fatality count significantly higher than last year at this time, it is important that each and every person do what’s needed to make our roadways as safe as possible.”

With less than two weeks left in 2002, Driscoll noted some grim statistics. Through Thursday, Dec. 19, 258 drivers and passengers had died on Montana roadways, compared with 224 at the same point in the previous year.

In statistics compiled through December 19:

  • Seatbelts were not used in 206 fatalities, an increase of about 19 percent over 2001.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 88 fatalities, an increase of more than 17 percent over 2001.
  • Speed was a factor in 101 fatalities, an increase of about 26 percent over 2001.

“It may sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating,” Driscoll said. “Wear your seatbelt, never drink and drive and obey all regulatory signs, such as the posted speed limits while considering weather and road conditions.

The state’s fatal count is notably higher in the Billings District, which has seen a significant rise in fatal crashes this year. Fifty-nine people have died in the district, compared with 34 at the same point in 2001. The district includes Yellowstone, Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater and Sweetgrass Counties.

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