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Montana notes positive traffic, collision impacts during pandemic

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 5/18/20

According to KPAX, shutdowns as a result of COVID-19 have directly impacted traffic and collisions in Montana. By just how much, exactly? “By mid-April, traffic across Montana was only about 60 percent of what it normally is at that time of year, according to MS2,” a company that compiled traffic data from roughly 50 percent of all U.S. states since the start of the pandemic. As a whole, the U.S. saw about 45 percent less traffic. This drop is correlated with just 30 crashes for the year in the state by May 11, 75 percent of those seen in 2018 and 2019. Curiously, after subtracting crashes from January and February, the number of crashes for the year is just three below that of 2019 and 2018. KPAX reports this is due in part to a majority of crashes, 21, involving one vehicle, where excessive speed was the root cause in 60 percent of those incidents. Around the U.S., law enforcement officers are reporting that traffic-free roads have encouraged speeding and joyriding. As Montana begins to reopen, traffic has soared to 80 percent of that of similar periods from recent years, and officers are concerned the speeding trend will not abate despite the increase, leading to more incidents. However, the animals are certainly benefiting: Montana Department of Transportation “workers removed 958 animal carcasses from roads statewide between March 1 and May 14. That number is one-half and two-thirds the number removed in 2018 and 2019 during the same time period.”

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