Nobody wants to experience an auto accident. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happens to thousands of people each year. Some victims of MT auto accidents live and work in the Big Sky State. Others come to visit Yellowstone or Glacier National Park. When a car accident interrupts plans, though, it’s challenging to know where to turn.
Fortunately, information is power. When you understand Montana auto accidents and the circumstances that surround them, you’ll be better prepared to protect your rights.
Here’s what every resident and visitor should know about car accidents in Montana.
5 Surprising Facts About MT Auto Accidents
Here are a few accident facts to consider:
1. Montana’s Crash Rate is Decreasing
If you drive the roads of Montana, you are at risk of getting into a car accident. Slick pavement, short winter days, low visibility, driver inattention, driver fatigue, deer and other animals, and alcohol are just a few of the factors. The list goes on and on.
In 2017, there were 3,571 impaired driver-involved crashes in Montana. Just over 114 of those involved fatalities. An additional 270 involved severe injuries. While those numbers decreased from the year before (there were 3,834 crashes in 2016) it remains high.
According to the Montana DOT, the statistics from 2017 bring the five-year annual average to 1,131, which is down from 1,214 in 2016.
2. Montana has a High Traffic Fatality Rate
If you’ve ever driven the roads in Montana, you can probably imagine why the traffic fatality rate is so high. Many Montana highways are rural, two-lane roads, far removed from any town. Many are well out of cell phone reception. The state is covered with rivers, valleys, cliffs, and wildlife. It’s a dangerous place to drive, and the traffic fatality rate reflects that.
In 2017, Montana reported 186 traffic accident deaths . One hundred sixty-seven of these deaths occurred in rural parts of the state.
In 2016 (the most recent data currently available) Montana had 1.51 total fatalities per 100 million vehicles driven. In previous years, Montana’s crash fatality rate has more than doubled the national rate.
3. There are Many Different Types of Vehicles in MT Auto Accidents
Montanans like their cars. According to the 2016 census, there are just over one million residents in Montana. Despite that, Montanans registered more than 1.4 million “light vehicles” in 2016.
Unlike cities, where the majority of the cars on the road are light vehicles, there are 58,000 “heavy trucks” registered in Montana. In addition to accidents involving personal vehicles, Montana also has a high rate of accidents involving semi trucks and other heavy equipment.
The rate of accidents involving large trucks is increasing, even as national crash rates decrease. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of heavy trucks (weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds) involved in fatal crashes doubled between 2016 and 2017. Trucks were also involved in 126 more fatal crashes in 2017 than in 2016 (this represents an increase of 3.8%).
4. Driver Negligence Causes Most Car Accidents
While it’s true that Montana is full of dangerous roads, hazardous conditions aren’t enough to create such a high fatality rate on their own. So why are fatal and “serious injury” MT car accidents so common here? The answer is simple: negligence.
In 2017, 3,166 people died in distracted driving accidents. “Distracted driving” refers to someone operating a vehicle while their attention is on something else. In Montana, common distracted driving factors include the following:
- Eating or drinking
- Texting, talking on, or otherwise using a cell phone
- Adjusting the radio or music
- Using a GPS
- Talking to passengers
- Viewing oneself in the rearview mirror
5. MT Car Accident Cases are Difficult to Try
Obtaining a settlement in a personal injury suit stemming from a Montana car accident case requires you to prove negligence. This can be easier said than done. Combine this with the statute of limitations in Montana, and you’ve got a tough case on your hands.
Unfortunately, the injuries from a car accident can be life-changing. The weeks or months following the accident are often the hardest. To compound the physical and emotional impact of the car accident, you may also be dealing with the insurance adjuster for a negligent driver. In these cases, it’s wise to let a lawyer handle these negotiations.
If you’ve obtained injuries in a Montana car accident involving negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury suit. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney to learn more.
Contact a Montana Trucking Accident Attorney to Protect Your Rights
Montana is a beautiful place, but it can be a dangerous state to drive. If you’ve recently experienced an MT auto accident, whether you’re a tourist or a resident of the state, contact McGrady Law. A skilled trucking accident attorney, Philip McGrady specializes in MT auto accidents and tourist auto accidents. He will help you secure the representation you deserve.