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Montana highway fatalities increased 17 percent in 2015

Fatal accidents on Montana roads were up significantly in 2015, and state officials think several factors are at work. In 2015, 224 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the state. That's a 17 percent jump from 2014's death toll of 192. The increase doesn't look quite so bad when compared to 2013, when 229 died on Montana roads. Nonetheless, each death is a tragedy for the individuals and the families involved.

The largest share of the increased death toll occurred on secondary roads - two-lane roads that are neither state nor federal highways and are located outside of cities and towns. The biggest increases occurred in the Billings and Havre districts.

The numbers are preliminary and state authorities have not yet done a detailed analysis to determine the factors that led to the increase. But they do have some ideas. According to the chief of the Montana Highway Patrol, lack of seat belts, alcohol and speed are the three primary reasons people die in motor vehicle accidents. In addition, he noted that gas prices dropped sharply in 2015, encouraging more people to get out on the roads.

Every time a person is killed in a motor vehicle accident, they leave friends, family or loved ones behind. Families can be hurt particularly hard if they depended on the deceased person financially. Under Montana law, when a fatal accident is caused by another driver's negligence, the victim's next of kin have the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a car accident may wish to consult an experienced personal injury law firm to get answers.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Montana highway death toll up sharply in 2015," Kim Briggeman, Jan. 6, 2016

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