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Alcohol-related fatalities up on Montana roads

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As the summer travel season culminates with the approaching Labor Day weekend, the Montana Department of Transportation reports that more persons died in alcohol-related crashes on Montana roadways this summer than during the same time period last year. As of Aug. 20, preliminary reports show 36 alcohol-related fatalities occurred in Montana motor vehicle crashes — 13 more fatalities than reported in the same timeframe in 2011.

“No one wants to be responsible for injuring or killing another person, but when you get behind the wheel impaired, you have a deadly weapon in your hands,” said Montana Department of Transportation Director Tim Reardon. “Every statistic we can lower is a life saved, and we need to continue to shift the mentality of Montana drivers to know that drinking and driving can kill you and anyone you encounter on the road. Montanans are fed up with impaired drivers, and law enforcement is taking a firm approach against these drivers.”

Montana law enforcement agencies around the state are participating in the National Labor Day Mobilization Campaign, running from Aug. 20 through Sept. 3, to remind motorists that driving impaired and not buckling up greatly increases the risk of traveling for themselves and others. The Montana Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies have also increased patrols through the holiday weekend.

Based on preliminary data, over the last five years, an average of one alcohol-related driving fatality occurred every three days on Montana roads, ultimately accounting for 44 percent of all Montana’s traffic fatalities. That percentage places Montana among the five states with the worst percentage of highway fatalities attributable to alcohol.

“Although Montana has made progress over the last 20 years in lowering alcohol-related crashes, we still have a long way to go to reach the national average,” Reardon added. “The most important thing for people to do who are drinking is plan a sober ride that will get them home safely. Impaired drivers not only endanger themselves but also everyone else on the roads they travel. We want everyone to reach their destinations alive and uninjured.”

The Montana Department of Transportation reminds Montanans that planning ahead for a safe ride home is the smart thing to do for themselves, their families, and fellow drivers and passengers on the road. Montanans can plan their safe ride home with a sober driver by following the planning tips and tools found at

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