Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After the freezing rain and MEANS (Missoula Emergency Action Notification System) alerts for drivers on Wednesday morning, KGVO News reached out to Montana Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Sergeant Jay Nelson for important safety tips for those hitting the road for the Thanksgiving weekend.

“We'll be out there working throughout the Thanksgiving weekend,” began Sergeant Nelson. “We want everybody aid to get to their destination safely. As I've said many times on your program, one fatality is too many, especially when that fatality affects your family, your friends, or your co workers, and so we want everybody to slow down and definitely don't drive impaired. And always remember to put that seatbelt on.”

Wednesday's Freezing Rain was the Cause of Several Accidents in Western Montana

Very few were expecting the challenging icy roads on Wednesday morning, so Nelson said it’s always wise to check the forecast before you hit the road.

“Definitely, we need to pay attention to those forecasts and expect the unexpected,” he said. Make sure that you know your vehicle is able to make the trip, meaning have you had anybody check the fluids in your vehicle? Have you had anyone check the tire inflation, so that your tires are properly inflated? Make sure you have enough gas. Make sure you have an emergency kit, should you be stranded somewhere.”

The MHP says Travelers should 'Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst'

Nelson said when traveling, ‘hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst’.

“Weather always plays a factor of course, so we're hoping for the best with nice weather out. We hope that there are zero fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, however, traditionally over the years with this many people traveling, we do usually have a heightened level of crashes and or fatalities across our state and we're hoping for the best.”

Sergeant Jay Nelson with the Montana High Patrol provided the following report on Wednesday's freezing rain event, primarily in Ravalli County.

"We had freezing rain move in, mainly down in the Ravalli County areas where we had the most problem with motor vehicle crashes," said Sergeant Nelson. "We had a full blockage of highway 93  at about milepost 70 which is just into Ravalli. County. We had to bring in D O T (Department of Transportation), we had multiple troopers, which started off as one crash and ended up in several crashes; one with serious injuries. In total in the last 12 hours in your listening area we experienced 15 motor vehicle crashes and that number is definitely going to rise. It's a reminder that winter is upon us and definitely slow down and watch for changing conditions."

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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