Slight Decrease in Montana Highway Fatalities This Year Despite Higher Speed Limit
Last year, The state of Montana increased the speed limit on highways to 80 miles per hour, and many are wondering if the increased speed has led to increased fatalities. According to Montana Highway Patrol Executive assistant Kristin Banchero, there’s not enough information yet.
"We don't really believe that we have enough data currently to adequately evaluate the speed limit's increase on highway fatalities," Banchero said. "You've got to keep in mind that the speed limit didn't go into effect until last October, so that's not even a year's worth of information., so we are kind of reserving judgement until we have more information and more time has passed."
Interestingly, the number of fatalities this year has actually decreased, but just slightly.
"As of Tuesday, we are at 138 fatalities year-to-date, last year at the same time, we were at 151 fatalities, so we have slightly fewer fatalities this year than last year," Banchero said before noting, "We've got a lot of people on the road in the summertime and it's definitely our busiest crash season."
The issue of speed and fatalities came up at a legislative interim committee meeting this week. Legislators also discussed the possibility of making seat belt violations a primary offense.