MHP Reveals 2019 Crash Information Report And Issues A Scam Warning

The Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) has good news and bad this January. Project Zero has been reaching for a goal of zero fatalities on Montana’s highways, following a history of crashes, many of which were due to  driving under the influence. The good news is that the  number of deaths has remained steady for the past three years, and Project Zero is getting closer to its goal. However, in less favorable news, MHP has issued a warning about scams on the highways, and motorists are urged to be vigilant.

Results Of 2019 Fatality Crash Information Report

Fatalities on Montana’s roads are down 11.11% since 2017, and have remained steady over the last two years. There were 185 fatalities in 2019, slightly up from 2018’s figure of 182. While there has not been a reduction since the last report, the figure holding relatively steady shows promise for the future. Deaths in Missoula have remained consistent since 2017, which is a good sign, since the number of miles traveled and the number of drivers in the state have both increased, leading to much more traffic on the highways.

Lopez Law reports that reckless driving accounts for many of their cases, which total over 1500. Indeed, MHP Captain, Jim Kitchin, said that  alcohol was a factor in 40% of Montana’s accidents, and not wearing a seat belt accounted for 39.8%. He urges motorists to pay proper attention to responsible driving and seat belt safety in the year ahead, saying that many of 2019’s deaths could have been avoided.

Winter Weather Warning

With winter still very much in full swing, Kitchin warns drivers to make sure they’re prepared for severe conditions on the roads. He advocates planning trips in advance, and checking the weather and road conditions before traveling. “Take your time and have survival gear in your vehicle,” he says, warning drivers not use cruise control in severe conditions.

Severe Weather Gives Rise To Tow Truck Scams

MHP has also issued warnings about fake tow truck companies looking to take advantage of the winter conditions. Drivers in Missoula and Billings have been warned about scammers posing as tow truck companies. John Barnes, spokesman for the Montana Justice Department, warns of legitimate-looking towing companies listed online who are looking to take advantage of stranded drivers.

Barnes advises that it is not standard practice for a towing company to demand payment in advance, and warns drivers not to provide credit card details until service is provided. A legitimate company will charge at the time of service, and must have proper identification through the MHP. Barnes explained that every legitimate tow truck will have an MHP inspection sticker in the window.

To avoid being faced with an illegitimate towing service, it is advisable to research companies before you travel, even if you may not need them. If you are confident that you have the number of a reputable company to hand, you reduce your risk of falling prey to these scams, which can seem legitimate in a moment of crisis.

Drivers who have experienced local tow truck scams are asked to call  the state Office of Consumer Protection (1-800-481-6896) to report the behavior. This number can also help you identify legitimate companies.

The Montana Highway Patrol continues to strive for safety on the highways, but drivers must play their part, taking responsibility for safe driving, particularly during severe weather conditions. If you do find your vehicle affected by winter conditions, take care to avoid the recent rise in fake companies looking to take advantage.