Tuesday afternoon I was looking over my Associated Press news feed for Montana. Out of 10 headlines, these were four of them:
- Great Falls woman dies of injuries after car hit by semi
- Great Falls man dies of injuries in motorcycle crash
- 2 killed, 1 injured in rollover crash near Lodge Grass
- 2 killed, 4 injured in head-on crash in south-central Mont.
This morning, there’s another one:
There are several families hurting today because of these fatalities. Some accidents involved alcohol and some people were not wearing seatbelts.
Back in February 2014, the Missoulian newspaper had the following headline:
In that story, it was reported:
Traffic crashes in Montana have resulted in the loss of 1,053 lives between 2008 and 2012, for an average of 211 fatalities per year. The state’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.72 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 was third highest among the states.
A 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation Fact Sheet shows that Montana had 205 total driving fatalities in 2012 and 43% were alcohol-impaired. In 2013, there were 229 total driving fatalities and 40% were alcohol-impaired.
Two automobile accidents that affected me happened years ago, but I still remember them. First, my older sister and her friends were hit head-on by a drunk driver when she was 17 years old. Nobody died, but her life was severely altered because someone decided to drive drunk.
The other accident happened while I was on leave from the military visiting family. I was one of the first people to come upon a terrible automobile accident.
Two people (an elderly husband and wife) died – they were thrown from the vehicle. Two people (a brother and sister) in another vehicle were injured. The brother was trapped in the vehicle. I would not have seen him pinned under the dash if his sister hadn’t told me he was in the car.
Although my military experience and training kicked in and I did what I could to help, the screams, cries, and the memory of the broken bodies on the road and in the ditch still bothers me today.
Today there are several families hurting across Montana because their loved ones were killed in automobile accidents. It’s time we tell our friends and family to buckle up before they leave on their trip. It’s time to tell our friends and family that drinking and driving is not cool and that we’ll be there for them if they need a ride – with no questions asked. It’s time to tell them that we love them.
It’s time for all of us to be careful out there…