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Number of fatal crashes increased by 10 percent in Montana

While police in Montana worked hard in 2013 to prevent alcohol-related auto accidents, the state still saw a 10-percent increase in fatal collisions over the course of the year. Alcohol was a factor in 30 percent fewer deadly crashes than in 2012, but the number of traffic fatalities statewide still came to 224 in 2013, compared to 204 deaths a year before.

In particular, there were significantly higher percentages of fatal motorcycle accidents and pedestrian deaths in 2013 than in 2012. The causes for the increase in pedestrian fatalities aren't exactly clear, but an officer with the Montana Highway Patrol said that the state's popularity among motorcyclists from other states has likely led to a higher number of fatal bike crashes.

Out of all of the highway patrol's eight districts, the Billings district reportedly had the second-highest number of fatal auto accidents -- 38. Kalispell had the most with 39. Most of the deadly crashes throughout the state occurred on rural and primary roads, and the number of auto-accident deaths in urban areas increased from 11 in 2012 to 15 in 2013.

Not wearing a seatbelt was the most common factor among the fatal crashes this past year. The second most common factor was the involvement of only one vehicle. According to an MHP officer, the most common type of crash fatality in Montana involves alcohol, a single vehicle and an unused seat belt.

Statistics such as these may make an impression on Montana motorists, but the reality is that too many people will still lose their lives in 2014 because of the actions of negligent or reckless drivers. Individuals who have lost a loved one as a result of a wrongdoer's actions should be aware of the legal avenues for achieving the full measure of justice.

Source: Independent Record, "Crash deaths up 10 percent in Montana for 2013," Zach Benoit, Dec. 31, 2013

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