The Montana Highway Patrol was out in force over the New Year’s Eve holiday, and there were fewer DUI’s than in years past, but there was one fatality in western Montana.

Captain Jim Kitchin said the fatal crash occurred over the weekend.

“We had one fatality over the weekend in the Bitterroot,” said Kitchin. “It looks like speed was involved there.”

Kitchin said the number of DUI arrests was low.

“We had four DUI’s for the whole weekend, which was pretty good,” he said. “However, two of those were aggravated DUI’s. We had the SENT team deployed in Butte and they enforced seven DUI’s over there.”

Kitchin said winter road conditions led to numerous crashes in western Montana.

“In Missoula we investigated 44 crashes which took some of the guys off the highway so they couldn’t be very proactive, but, all in all it was pretty good,” he said. “What we’re seeing is black ice on the highway and people aren’t slowing down. We get into these shaded areas or the ice sets up again after it thaws, and then we have issues with that.”

Kitchin said not to be fooled by the warmer temperatures, winter driving conditions are still dominating the roadways.

“What happens is the roads will thaw and then at night time or when the wind picks up, those surfaces are going to freeze again and people lose control,” he said. “Don’t use your cruise control in the winter time, please. Slow down and take a lot more time to get where you’re going.”

Captain Kitchin ended his comments with a familiar phrase, ‘Don’t drink and drive and wear your seat belt.’

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