Montana Highway Patrol urges planning for upcoming winter snowstorm

Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) — With the first real taste of winter driving behind us, the Montana Highway Patrol is asking Missoula-area drivers for an update on their behavior in the snow.

Sergeant Jay Nelson, Public Information Officer, spoke to KGVO News about the large number of accidents that occurred from Thursday through the weekend.

There were nearly 500 accidents in last week’s snowstorm

“On behalf of all the men and women who are soldiers in the Montana Highway Patrol, there has not been a time when our soldiers wondered what they should do next,” Sergeant Nelson began. “That means we’ve literally gone from call to call, really for the last three days in a row (Thursday to Saturday). I think we’re pushing, depending on what time period you’re looking at, over the last three days we’re well over 400 and probably closer to 500 crashes statewide.

Unfortunately, there were four deaths

Nelson said most of the crashes were minor, however, some lives were lost in crashes in the snowstorm.

“We tragically lost four people statewide,” he said. “It was all due to that snow storm in terms of slippery roads etc. But yes there were four fatalities but the vast majority were just minor accidents, minor in terms of damage with minor injuries.”

Nelson said with the winter driving season just beginning, Missoula-area drivers should always have a winter emergency kit in their vehicles.

“Please take this emergency kit,” he said. “I can’t stress that enough and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Whether it’s a sleeping bag, some road flares, maybe some non-perishable food, something that if you slip off the road somewhere in Montana and someone doesn’t pass not quickly, then you could be in your vehicle and stay in your vehicle and survive for a while.

An emergency kit and let someone know where you are going

Much like hunters heading into the backcountry, Nelson urged drivers to let someone know where they’re heading and when they expect to arrive, just in case an accident occurs.

“Let someone know what you’re doing,” he said. “Whether it’s a family member, a friend, you name it. So many times and especially in the last three days we have motorists late, and they think they are going down this road, they think they are driving this vehicle. If you can give details to someone you trust, and if they don’t show up, that helps a lot. We can refine the search. We can look at our records and see if there have been any motor vehicle accidents that fit that description.

Please watch this dramatic video

Click here to see a dramatic rescue performed by heroic Montana Highway Patrol soldiers Wade Palmer and TJ Templeton from 2015 when they rescued two people on icy Interstate 90 between Missoula and Frenchtown that highlights the importance of slowing down on icy roads and to provide room for responding officers and emergency vehicles in the event of an accident.

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