MDT: Safer Roads Require Drivers To Reject High-Risk Behavior
Montana transportation officials say they are taking steps to make the state’s highways safer. MDT Director Mike Tooley says there’s a role for motorists to improve highway safety. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, that means drivers need to reject high-risk behavior.
Before Tooley took the helm at MDT, he led the Montana Highway Patrol. And as a MHP trooper Tooley says he had to inspect fatal highway crashes and talk to surviving family members. One contributing factor to highway accidents is the road. He says U.S. Highway 212 was one where safety improvements were needed to handle the heavy traffic load.
"The stretch between Laurel and Fort Rockvale has been the site of more serious injury and fatal crashes involving impaired drivers than almost anywhere else in the state," Tooley says. "Tragically there’s an average of one white cross per mile between here and Rockvale."
Tooley says this popular route to Red Lodge, Beartooth Pass, and Yellowstone Park will be helped by the wider roadway and turn lanes. But he says the way to really make this road safe is zero tolerance for alcohol or drug impaired drivers.
"If we’re going to save lives we’re going to have to address drinking and driving in this state. We have to change the mindset that getting behind the wheel buzzed or completely intoxicated is somehow okay."
Tooley was joined by local law enforcement and Montana Highway Patrol officers to emphasize their Vision Zero Initiative. It’s aimed at preventing traffic accidents and deaths in dense traffic corridors, like U.S. 212 near Billings or U.S. 93 near Missoula.
Motorists will be seeing more officers on the roadways in the two weeks leading up to the Labor Day holiday. It’s part of a national Drive Sober Initiative.