Drive Safe Missoula

The History

Drive Safe Missoula is the latest chapter in the history of traffic safety as it related issues like DUI Prevention, Seat Belt Safety, and Child Passenger Seats in Missoula County, Montana.   Traffic safety has been a key public health focus within the Health Promotions Division of the Missoula City-County Health Department since the early 1980s.

This division is run by a single Senior Community Health Specialist within the health department, however, it's supported by superheroes embedded throughout our community:

  1. Members of the Buckle Up Montana Coalition

  2. Members of the DUI Task Force

  3. Montana Department of Transportation

  4. Montana Department of Revenue

  5. Missoula County Government

  6. Missoula City Government

  7. State & Local Law Enforcement Agencies

  8. Local Emergency Medical Agencies

  9. Missoula Area Hospitals

  10. Local Businesses

  11. Local Media

  12. Local Non-Profit Organizations

  13. Local Schools

  14. Community Advocates


These superhero partners (See Drive Safe Missoula Partner's Page) and supporters have been the lifeblood and workforce behind the countless traffic safety and occupant protection initiatives over the years.  Perhaps you are familiar with some of the following throughout the Missoula area. 

  • Ride Sharing (Uber & Lyft) (Missoulian Article)

  • Buckle Up Signs

  • Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service (RASS) Training

  • Child Passenger Safety (Car Seats) check stations and events

  • Montana Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan

  • Occupant Protection Seatbelt Safety and Awareness

Drive Safe Missoula is financially backed by Federal Funds, State Grants, Private Grants, and Driver's Licence Reinstatement Fees from DUI Offenders.

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Proof in the Pudding

The Missoula Buckle Up Coalition has been conducting annual seatbelt usage surveys for many years.  Pictured below is a seat belt survey from 1987 compared to the 2019 survey.  In 1987, only 34% of Missoula vehicle occupants wore seatbelts.   Thankfully, the numbers have increased over the years and today over 92% of Missoula vehicle occupants are wearing their seatbelt.   The 2020 overall seat belt usage is 92.19%.

Our Hero

Drive Safe Missoula owes its very existence to the one and only Lonie Hutchison.  Lonie spent 36 years dedicated to improving the safety of our roadways for all of us.   The numbers (see above) speak for themselves, but Lonie was always at the helm driving those numbers in the right direction. 

Lonie has always been passionate about Child Safety Seats.  She was in the very first National Child Passenger Safety Technician course.   Her Technician number is 25 (technically I0025).   To highlight the distance Lonie has been driving down this road, I was one of Lonie's most recent students this last year and my CPS Tech Number is 795,420.  I'm one of what is now likely, more than 800,000 Child Passenger Safety Techs who are following in Lonie's footsteps.  

  - Steve Schmidt

Copied from the Missoula County Newsletter August 2019

As the senior community health specialist at the Missoula City-County Health Department, Lonie oversaw the distribution of free car seats to families unable to afford them. 

  • Safe Kids Missoula Coalition Coordinator for 19 years (1996 – 2010).

  •  Co-chair Impaired Driving Emphasis Area for the Missoula Transportation Safety Advisory Committee’s Community Transportation Safety Plan (2013 – 2019).

  • Member of the Impaired Driving & Occupant Protection Emphasis Area Committees of the Montana Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan (2013 –2019).

  • Co-chair of the Impaired Driving Emphasis Area Committee for the Montana Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan (2010 – 2013).

  • Statewide DUI Task Force Facilitator for the Montana Department of Transportation (2010 – 2013).

  • Recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Service Award presented by the Community Medical Center Foundation.

  • Recipient of Governor Judy Martz’s Award for Civic Engagement in 2004.

  • Recipient of the 2002 Kenneth W. Moore Community Award of Excellence in Improving Maternal, Family & Child Health presented by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies – The Montana Coalition.

  • Recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation in 2000 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – U.S. Department of Transportation “In grateful recognition and appreciation for your contribution in support of highway safety in Montana.”

  • Recipient of the Highway Safety Person of the Year Award presented by the Montana Highway Users Federation in Appreciation for the personal commitment to Highway Safety in 1989.

  • MDT 35 years of service award May 25, 2019

  • EMS Strong Beyond the Call Award:


"There are no words that can describe our love and gratitude for your 35 plus years of devoted service to our communities. Our roads and children are safer because of all your efforts, you have truly been an inspiration and mentor to countless others throughout the State of Montana. Wishing you much happiness in your retirement."


Lonie Hutchison in the news (Trust this is likely a very small list)

We Love You Lonie!

About the Drive Safe Missoula Coordinator

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The Many Faces of Steve Schmidt

Originally from Malta, Montana, Steve spent 8 years in uniform as a Police Officer on the streets of Kansas City, Missouri.   Rarely ever doing one thing at a time, for years Steve would change out of his blue police uniform and throw on a green fur uniform to perform as one of three different professional mascots.   He was the mascot for the Kansas City Wizards Major League Soccer Team (Chopper the Dragon), Kansas City's largest country radio station - KBEQ Young Country Q104 (Tail Gator), and Sandstone Amphitheater (Lawn Boy) while he was a full-time police officer.

Upon returning to Montana, Steve has worked as a Juvenile Detention Officer, Fire Fighter, EMT, and has spent many years in the business world specializing in sales and marketing.


A dedicated family man, Steve has two amazing adult children: Jessica (Soon to be Special Education Teacher) and Thomas (Firefighter and soon to be Paramedic).  Steve's wife, Dr. Leanne Beers, is a prominent sexologist who specializes in research and working with individuals who have disabilities.


Steve also develops and teaches online courses as part of his own video production company.


Steve has volunteered for the Muscular Dystrophy Association since he was 15 years old and has attended 27 different week-long summer camps for the kids. 

As the coordinator for Drive Safe Missoula, Steve is dedicated to saving lives and working to help ensure our Missoula roadways are safe for you and your family.