Montana Department of Transportation

MDT News

Increased Law Enforcement Part Of Initiative To Save Lives


Media Contacts: 
Lori Warden or Joe Nickell, PartnersCreative, 406.541.2263
Vision Zero: Officers heighten patrols to increase safety on Montana
roads as summer travel season begins

Increased law enforcement part of new Montana Department of
Transportation initiative to save lives

May 15, 2014 — Helena, Montana — As the Montana Department of
Transportation begins its new “Vision Zero” initiative directly aimed
to save lives on Montana roads, almost 50 law enforcement agencies
throughout the state ramp up patrols to enforce Montana seat belt
laws and stop behavior that puts drivers and occupants at risk during
the start of the busiest travel season. 

As part of MDT’s May Mobilization efforts to increase seat belt usage
and encourage safe driving, increased patrols by local police
departments, county sheriff’s offices and the Montana Highway Patrol
start Monday, May 19, continuing through Memorial Day weekend and
concluding Sunday, June 1. The Montana Highway Patrol’s Safety
Enforcement Traffic Team will focus special patrols on Interstate 90
and U.S. Highway 200, two of the state’s busiest travel corridors.
Patrols monitoring all traffic violations, including impaired
drivers, heighten again during the weeks around Fourth of July and
Labor Day.

Increased enforcement is timed during what has historically been the
deadliest period in Montana for fatal crashes —between May and
October — when 61 percent of all vehicular fatalities occurred in the
last 10 years. 

“We’re starting the time of year when a majority of our highway
fatalities happen in Montana,” said Montana Department of
Transportation Director Mike Tooley. “From May through October, when
the roads are dry and days are long, is not a time for Montanans to
be complacent about safe driving, but a time to be extra diligent on
the roads by always buckling up and only driving sober.” 

Of the total 2,309 Montana highway fatalities in the last decade from
2004 – 2013, 62 percent of these people were either not wearing a
seat belt or wearing it improperly. In Montana’s new Vision Zero
initiative, a combined effort across public safety and law
enforcement agencies to eliminate deaths and injuries on Montana
roads, MDT calls for all Montanans to buckle up, drive sober and
practice safe-driving behaviors.

“Too many lives are shattered on Montana highways from tragedy that
could have been prevented,” Tooley added. “Vision Zero is a goal and
a new mindset for all Montanans that death and serious injury on
Montana roads is unacceptable. We won't address our traffic fatality
issue as a state until every Montanan buckles up, drives responsibly,
avoids distraction and only drives sober.” 

In a new media campaign this month, MDT reaches out to embolden all
Montanans to buckle up. On outdoor billboards motorists will see a
bloody crash scene depicting the realistic devastation of a young
person thrown from the vehicle, a scene that happens frequently on
Montana roadways with occupants in crashes who have not buckled up.
The boards will hang with the banner “Life Shattered” to remind
Montanans that by not buckling up their lives could too easily be
shattered as well as the lives of their loved ones. 

On TV, MDT shows how lives shattered in a car crash also shatter the
lives of those who love the victims. In MDT’s latest commercial, a
mother mourns the loss of her son, whose life could have been spared
if he had buckled up. 

Vision Zero
High-visibility enforcement, education, safe engineering of roadways
and emergency medical response funding through the Emergency Medical
Services Grant Program all support Montana’s Vision Zero initiative —
working to eliminate deaths and injuries on Montana roadways.

Click It, Don’t Risk It
Extra patrols by local law enforcement and the Montana Highway Patrol
are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation through the
Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, using funds from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Montana Seat Belt
Enforcement Mobilization education campaign, “Click It, Don’t Risk
It,” runs May 19 to June 1, alongside increased enforcement. 

# # #

Editor Tip: Montana Highway Patrol troopers who have responded to the
scene of a crash are always authorized to answer questions from
media. They will report all facts about a crash that are no longer
under investigation. When asked if occupants were wearing seat belts,
troopers will answer provided that element of the crash is no longer
under investigation. In many crashes, it can be determined at the
scene if occupants were or were not wearing seat belts.