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Representing the People Against the Powerful

Car Accidents

How Distracted Driving Caused the Big Sky state to Become One of the Most Dangerous States for Driving

Montana is known for its sprawling, winding highways like the Beartooth Pass. With 1,189 miles of interstate stretching alongside the rugged Montana landscape, it's no surprise that travelers from all over come to Montana for camping, hiking, hunting, and, of course, road trips.
With unpredictable weather and high-speed limits, travelers can underestimate the dangers of Montana roads. For those who live here, it's just as easy to forget how treacherous our streets can be. After all, we get a false sense of security when we drive on them daily for work and recreation. We think it's not a big deal to text our friend that we are five minutes away or that we can get from point A to point B even if we are exhausted because we've driven the same streets, roads, and highways for years, maybe even under worse conditions.
Underestimating Montana roads can end in tragedy, but even less severe collisions can have devastating effects. Even minor accidents can cause physical, emotional, and financial stress for those living paycheck to paycheck. The anxiety you experience after a collision can be overwhelming.
Here's some basic information about car accidents in Montana and how you can protect yourself and enjoy our beautiful roads.

MONTANA TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

by the Stats

According to Statista, in 2019, there were over six million accidents in the United States. 1 That same year, one study named Montana the state with the worst drivers, and the Montana Highway Patrol recorded 23,959 traffic collisions in Montana, which averages a car accident occurring within Montana every 22 minutes with a fatality every 48 hours. 2
These numbers have remained consistent throughout years of studies and surveys.
According to data from The Montana Department of Transportation, most accidents in Montana happen due to distracted driving or drunk driving. 3
Data on Montana drivers showed that although Montanans were aware of the risk of distracted driving, respondents admitted to doing it anyway.

Montana Traffic 
Accidents by the Stats

According to Statista, in 2019, there were over six million accidents in the United States. 1 That same year, one study named Montana the state with the worst drivers, and the Montana Highway Patrol recorded 23,959 traffic collisions in Montana, which averages a car accident occurring within Montana every 22 minutes with a fatality every 48 hours. 2
These numbers have remained consistent throughout years of studies and surveys.
According to data from The Montana Department of Transportation, most accidents in Montana happen due to distracted driving or drunk driving. 3
Data on Montana drivers showed that although Montanans were aware of the risk of distracted driving, respondents admitted to doing it anyway.

WHAT IS

Distracted Driving?

Accidents caused by distracted driving are an all-too-common reality for those in the smartphone age.
A 2016 State Farm survey states, "Nearly all drivers, 91 percent, reported owning a smartphone, and more than half say they use them while driving." 4
The same 2016 State Farm survey found that Americans who reported using their phone while driving are likely to engage in other dangerous behavior such as driving impaired or at excessive speeds. 4
While the conversation about distracted driving continues to revolve around cellphone use while driving, the truth is distractions while driving go far beyond cellphone use.
The Montana Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as "any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing." 3
The list of distracted driving in Montana includes everything from eating to checking your makeup in the mirror to talking to the person next to you.
Look at the local newspaper; there's undoubtedly another story of a severe accident where one or more drivers were distracted.
But one form of distracted driving is often overlooked: driving when drowsy driving. It's something that most people have done, maybe without even realizing it, and it's just as dangerous as texting while driving.

WHAT IS

Drowsy Driving?

Montana is known for its large stretches of open roads. Those who drive to the nearest town might spend an hour or two driving in the middle of nowhere. It's a great way to spend the afternoon. Maybe you've been having trouble keeping your eyes open or missed your exit because you lost your thoughts in a daydream. That's drowsy driving.
According to the Sleep Foundation, in 2017, "drowsy driving was responsible for 91,000 car crashes, 50,000 injuries, and 795 deaths." 5 These figures are probably low, as experts point out that drowsy driving is under-reported, and the number of fatalities could be as high as 6,000.
The Sleep Foundation points out that if the number of fatalities is closer to 6,000 annually, then drowsiness would make up about 21% of fatal car accidents. For comparison, the number of deadly accidents caused by drunk driving is around 30% of all fatal car crashes. 5 That's why most experts consider drowsy driving as dangerous as driving drunk.
In fact, studies show that drowsy drivers make similar mistakes to drunk drivers. People who drive tired show signs of cognitive impairment. Much like being drunk, drowsiness impairs decision-making, reaction time, and coordination, making those quick judgment calls drivers need to make in a hazardous situation more challenging.
The Sleep Foundation found that even minor sleep deprivation can impair a driver's cognitive reasoning.
One study concluded that "sleeping between six and seven hours a night doubled the risk of being involved in a crash while getting less than five hours of sleep doubled it again." 5

HOW DOES DISTRACTED DRIVING

Affect Montanans?

Surveys and studies list distracted driving as Montana's top cause of car accidents. If the annual average number of car accidents in Montana is 20,000, then traffic accidents affect more than 20,000 Montanas yearly.
Montanans work hard to provide for their families and can't afford the financial and emotional toll of a car accident, no matter how minor.
After a car accident, bills come due. Rent and medical expenses pile up. Many Montanas are single-car families, so a totaled car means a complete loss of transportation.
Most insurance companies are large corporations whose business depends on settling with you at the lowest amount possible. Most of the time, what they offer just doesn't cut it.
That's why you need an expert in your corner.
AVA Law Group is a Billings-based law firm with legal experts born and raised in Montana.
If you are from Montana or a traveler passing through and were injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
It's time to forget the stress and focus on healing and recovery.

Talk to an AVA legal expert today to understand all your options.

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AVA Law Group eliminates the confusion of filing a claim by working on your claim and, if necessary, connecting you with one our many partner firms that fits your needs and will get you the best results.
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