Missoula PD joins efforts to get folks to buckle up - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula PD joins efforts to get folks to buckle up

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Statewide effort focuses on using seatbelts. (MTN News photo) Statewide effort focuses on using seatbelts. (MTN News photo)

Missoula Police believe far too many people are dying in car crashes because they aren't wearing their seat belts and they're jumping into a statewide campaign to change that.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer travel season and that means more fatal accidents. MPD reports that last year 70% of the 172 Montanans who were killed in auto accidents weren't buckled.

Starting this weekend -- and lasting through the summer -- officers will be "buckling down" to convince people to buckle up.

"Montana is a driving state. It's a state when you're on vacation you drive through it, even if you fly here you rent a car and drive. So you also have the added issue of people who aren't familiar with Montana, driving on Montana's highways,” Missoula Police Sgt. Greg Amundson said. “And we have a very high speed limit compared to most states. A lot of western states have 80, but not every state does,” he added.

There have been have been 55 crash fatalities in the state so far this year and 65% of the victims weren't wearing seatbelts.

The summer months of May through August are when the highest number of traffic fatalities occur in Montana. Crashes in that four-month period have averaged 43 percent of all fatal crashes for the year, based on totals from 2005 through 2015.

“We appreciate officers putting in overtime to promote the use of seat belts,” said Mike Tooley, director of the Montana Department of Transportation. "Wearing a seatbelt is such a basic safety strategy, but there are still folks who need a reminder from these officers that it is also the law.”

Extra traffic safety patrols are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation. This and other enforcement and education campaigns are combined under Vision Zero, the shared vision for zero deaths and zero serious injuries on Montana roadways. 

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