KALISPELL — Summer is road trip season and all across the nation there is a large increase in motor vehicle accidents — and Montana is no exception to that.
“Well, the 100 deadliest days of the summer are from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and traditionally across the United States,” noted Montana Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jay Nelson. “That's where the majority of fatality motor vehicle crashes occur. It's no different in the great state of Montana. As you know, it's been a long, hard winter. And so, everybody is anxious to get out there and enjoy what Montana has to offer.”
There are also increased risks for crashes and deaths with the flood of tourists coming into Montana and the Flathead Valley for summer activities and Glacier National Park.
“I think we're going to see that increase in traffic we're gonna see the increase in call volumes and just more people on you know, the highways and infrastructure that we have here in the Valley,” Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino told MTN News. “You know, a lot of that is a positive you know, a lot of our business owners are, you know, successful because of our summertime operation or people that are coming here. So, we want to support that but on the other hand, it is trying for those of us that are living here.”
The Montana Highway Patrol and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office are reminding people to wear a seatbelt, not to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and avoid distractions such as cell phones — and to be patient and plan for extra travel time.
“When you look at the fatality numbers — like I do week in and week out — the biggest factor that comes into play is speed,” Nelson said. “And really educating people and having people understand that just because of the speed limit sign says a certain number. It doesn't mean you have to travel that number, especially with people heading to camping and fishing and, you know, towing boats or campers.”
Following a long winter, summer should be enjoyed, but please remember to do your part to keep yourself and others safe on busy summer roads.
“I think everybody looks forward to summer, just not the traffic portions and some of that kind of stuff. So, I think we all enjoy the many opportunities we have here in Flathead County, but it's definitely the patience levels of trying to get around in this traffic and with more people coming here. We all have to learn a little bit more patience to get to where we're going,” Sheriff Heino concluded.