Chief of the Montana Highway Patrol, Col. Tom Butler said that 2014 was a better year than others for people driving on Montana's roads and highways.

The Montana Highway Patrol released its annual report, and KGVO News received a copy on Friday.

"2014 was a pretty good year for us," Butler said. "Overall total crashes are down by five percent, but the really important statistic for 2014 is that fatalities are down by 16 percent. We went from 229 in 2013 to 192 in 2014, and that's a good stroke of business as far as we're concerned."

Butler said use of alcohol while driving continued to fall in 2014, primarily due to recent laws passed by the Montana legislature.

"In the last two legislative sessions there's been some significant DUI legislation passed, one of which is the 24/7 Sobriety Project," he said. "This requires twice-daily sobriety checks for second or subsequent DUI offenders, and that's up and running in about 22 counties in Missoula. The vast majority of large urban areas of Montana have the program, and about 4,000 participants have gone through the program and over 99 percent of them complete it successfully."

"That has made a significant difference, it's a complete change from anything we've ever done in Montana in relation to alcohol related issues and driving, and I really believe that is starting to show itself in the numbers we're seeing," he said.

Butler said the use of seat belts for everyone in the vehicle and the reduction of distracted driving will contribute to safer travel for anyone driving in the state of Montana.

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