Impaired Driving Prevention
Montana continues to have a problem with motor vehicle crashes in which driver impairment is a factor. Preliminary 2008 results show that almost half (45.9%) of all fatal crashes were alcohol related. About one in ten reported traffic crashes in 2008 were alcohol/drug-related . About one in five (19.5%) reported injuries resulted from alcohol/drug related motor vehicle crashes (2008 data). This is the highest percentage since 1994.
Montana has one of the highest alcohol-fatality rates in the nation. The current alcohol-related fatality rate (as reported by NHTSA for 2007) for the nation is 0.51 and for Montana the rate is 1.10.
Economic loss from driver impairment crashes was over $178 million during 2007 (2008 data currently unavailable). Results of a study conducted by the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, released in 2009, show that alcohol abuse costs the state's economy more than half a billion dollars per year in medical costs, lost wages and productivity and other public and private spending. Of that number, $49.1 million was spent on "extra police, judges and prison cells needed to protect citizens and enforce the laws that are broken because of the impairing impacts of alcohol."
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) State Highway Traffic Safety Office (SHTSB) has established three alcohol-related goals that it aims to meet by 2010:
- Reduce the annual alcohol- and drug-related fatality rate (per 100 million vehicle miles of travel) from 1.12 during 2005 to less than 0.80.
Progress: The 2007 rate was 1.10. The early estimated 2008 rate is 0.97.
- Reduce the percentage of alcohol- and drug-related fatalities from 49.4% of all traffic crashes during 2005 to less than 40%.
Progress: The 2007 rate was 44.8%, and the early estimated rate for 2008 is 45.9%.
Reduce the total annual alcohol- and drug-related fatalities from 124 during 2005 to less than 90.
Progress: There were 124 such fatalities in 2007, and the early estimated number for 2008 is 105.
State Highway Traffic Safety Office