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MHP trooper urging safer driving as fatalities spike

As fatalities spike, trooper urging safer driving while on Montana roads
Posted at 8:15 AM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 10:16:04-04

BILLINGS — Since the start of the summer season, there has been a rise in fatal accidents involving cars and motorcycles in south-central Montana.

The Montana Highway Patrol reports there have been 80 fatal accidents this year on Montana roadways.

Montana Highway Patrol trooper and traffic homicide investigator Aaron Freivalds says motorists should be taking three big safety precautions to help prevent a fatal accident.

“We don’t want you driving impaired, we don’t want you to exceed the speed limit, and we do want you wearing your seat belt. Those three things I would say, 80 percent of the fatality crashes I investigate would not have resulted in a fatality crash,” says Freivalds.

According to the MHPl, more fatal accidents in the summer months this year have occurred compared to last year.

"Typically, we do see a lot of fatal crashes this month and July, but the amount that we have had this two weeks is atypically high. I attribute that partially just to everyone wanting to get out after quarantine and everything else that has been going on,” says Freivalds.

Freivalds says that while he does see some minor to fatal accidents inside the city limits, the majority of the accidents he investigates happen on the highway.

For motorcycle riders, Freivalds encourages people to take rider safety courses to improve their skills and lower the risk of accidents.

These courses will help new and seasoned riders to improve skills in emergency braking, maneuvers, and overall rider safety. He also suggests wearing full leathers and a helmet.

Freivalds says an important thing to remember while driving, especially with deer and other animals that cross the road in Montana, is to practice straight-line braking in the case of an emergency.

“Straight-line braking is an underappreciated driving tactic to increase safety. Don’t swerve to miss a deer just (hit) your brakes, use them as hard as you can, and just try to use them in a straight line,” Freivalds concluded.