HELENA – Local law enforcement reports a slight uptick in the number of crashes over the weekend around Helena, likely due to winter weather.
One notable crash happened on Sunday when a couple was driving on Interstate 15 and crashed into the back of a Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputy patrol car.
The deputy was using his vehicle to route traffic around a semi truck whose trailer had been blown into a borrow pit by strong winds.
The couple saw police lights on the road, but wasn’t able to stop in time before hitting the patrol car. Airbags deployed in the crash, and Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said the couple was taken to St. Peter’s Health.
The deputy was outside the car at the time and unharmed, but the car did come close to hitting him.
The slippery, snowy conditions led Sheriff Dutton to consult with the Montana Department of Transportation and issue a severe driving conditions advisory on Sunday.
“It was slick. There was moisture that froze. And you just can’t stop,” Dutton said. “Go to where you can feel those those rumble strips. Move off to the side of the road where you can stop. If you stop in the middle of the road, the likelihood of you getting hit goes up exponentially.”
Police have another concern on top of the slick road conditions. On Monday night, they’ll be watching closely for impaired drivers. New Year’s Eve is one of the more dangerous times to be out on the road because of drunk drivers. Lewis and Clark County does not have DUI checkpoints, however Sheriff Dutton said there will be increased patrols.
The Sheriff encourages everyone planning on drinking to have a designated driver.
AAA is also providing free rides home for drivers on New Year’s in Helena and other Montana cities. For more information, click here.