Montana Ranks Highest in Highway Fatalities - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Montana Ranks Highest in Highway Fatalities

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A report released from the Reason Foundation ranks the overall quality of Montana's Highway system fifth best in the nation. It's good news, but the Treasure State is down three spots from 2012.

The ranking suffered because Montanans aren't buckling up. "We preach to the public to wear seatbelts. Unfortunately we have a drastic spike in the lack of use in seatbelts resulting in fatality crashes," Montana Highway Patrol Captain Keith Edgell said.

Edgell said traffic fatalities involving people not wearing their seatbelts are up nearly 10 percent from 2012. "Wreck wise we're about where we normally are. We are having more fatalities, because we're having more people ejected from the vehicles for lack of seatbelt use," Edgell said.

Even though the Montana Department of Transportation goes above and beyond to ensure roadways are safe, Montana ranks last in traffic fatalities. Additional troopers are now out patrolling through the weekend to ensure a safer 4th of July week. "We do see additional guys out there which helps with visibility, and that usually curtails people's driving habits when they see the trooper, and not necessarily being stopped," Edgell said.

Captain Edgell said people celebrating the fourth should allow enough time for travel this week. "If you're going to Laurel, you know you're going to be in traffic. Don't become that irate driver while you're out there," Edgell said.

Edgell said troopers are called to several fires near roads this time of year. He said people need to be mindful of the weather and stay safe. According to Captain Edgell, six people, who were not wearing seatbelts, have died on Montana roadways over the week.