HELENA — Traffic Safety leaders met at the Montana Department of Transportation on Thursday to discuss how to improve driver safety and reduce crashes on Montana roads, especially with summer around the corner.
The meeting was part of the “Vision Zero” initiative, a steady effort to one day get the number of deadly traffic crashes in the state to zero.
Traffic safety board members and various organizations and agencies from the Montana Tavern Association to the Governor’s Office discussed a variety of topics that included things like impaired driving and other incidents of traffic fatalities.
Montana saw its lowest number of fatalities in a decade in 2018 and fatal crashes are currently down nearly 20% from the previous years. However, the state is preparing to enter the busy summer travel season and just this week, there have been five fatal crashes in only three days on Montana roads.
“Well, we are working together. Today’s meeting was a stakeholder group meeting, basically, decision-makers from state agencies and organizations like Tavern Owner’s Association and we’re coming together to plot new strategies to push the number to zero,” MDT Director Mike Tooley told MTN News.
“So, once in a while, we get together to see what everyone’s doing and remind them that what we are doing is effective and yet still very important to continue,” Tooley continued.
A program highlighted at the meeting was Helena’s Home Free Program which provides free Uber rides to patrons around Helena, from participating taverns and establishments.
The idea is to eliminate impaired driving for those who (on the occasion) go out and have a bit more “fun” than anticipated. Not to encourage drinking so heavily that you become reliant on “Home Free” to take you home from the bar every Friday night.
Since 2017, “Home Free” has aided more than 1200 impaired drivers, keeping them safe and off the road.