• Steve Schmidt - Drive Safe Missoula

Montana's Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan


Cover Image from Montana Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan 2021 Annual Report.  Ariel photo of a couple vehicles traveling on a two lane highway in a snow covered landscape with smaller pine trees and hills off in the distance.

There is a lot that goes into developing and implementing Montana's Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan.


The purpose of the plan is:


The Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan (CHSP) is the framework for all Montanans to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries on Montana’s roadways. The CHSP complies with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and continues to track, evaluate, and address key crash factors involved in fatal and serious in jury crashes.


To reach the goal of Vision Zero, we need you! We need you. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. Your employer needs you! And, your community needs you. We all need you to get to your destination safely. Every trip! Every time!


The CHSP's Interim Goal is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on Montana's roads by half, from 952 in 2018 to 476 in 2030. We are currently on pace to accomplish that goal.


CHAP graph depicting the Interim Goal to recued fatalities and serious injuries on Montana's Roadways by half from 952 in 2018 to 476 in 2030.  As of 2020 we were at 942.  In 2007 Montana had 1705 total fatalities and serious injuries on Montana Roads.

There are four main emphasis areas:

  1. Roadway Departures & Intersection Related Crashes

  2. Impaired Driving

  3. Unrestrained Vehicle Occupants

  4. Emergency Response - After-crash Care

Drive Safe Missoula, which is home to the Missoula County DUI Task Force and the Missoula County Buckle Up Coalition, plays a key roll in two of the four emphasis areas. Naturally, the more people who are choosing to drive 100% sober and 100% buckled up improves highway safety for all of us. Additionally, sober drivers are less likely to experience a roadway departure or and intersection related crash. This all then reduces the need for an emergency response. It's a Win-Win-Win-Win on multiple levels.


Here's another look at how we are trending:


Graph showing a downward trend for total fatalities and serious injuries.  In 2011, there were 1178 total fatalities and serious injuries in Montana.  In 2020, there were 942 total fatalities and Serious injuries.  The lowest year was 2019 with 893 total fatalities and serious injuries.

Across the country, there was an increase in Total Fatalities and Serious injuries for 2020 during the pandemic. The official numbers for 2021 haven't been released yet, but it looks like they will be above the 2020 numbers. For example, Drive Safe Missoula was showing, unofficially, 240 roadway fatalities in 2021 compared to 212 in 2020.


What is 2022 looking like so far? It looks like we are back on track.


Graph:  As of March 7 2022 there have been 20 lives lost on Montana Roadways for the year.   This time last year we had 42 fatalities.  The behaviors that contributed to the fatalities:  4 Impaired Driving and 9 Improper Restraints.  14, were motorists, 0 were motorcyclists, 6 were pedestrians, 0 bicyclists, 0 ATV Riders.
This is on the Drive Safe Missoula Home Page and is routinely updated

Can we get to Zero? Yes, I think we can. Not only are more and more people choosing to drive 100% sober, 100% buckled up, and 100% Distraction Free, but technology is coming into play. Our roadway engineers are working on environmental factors to make our roads safer. Vehicle manufactures are building cars that brake for us, steer for us, and so much more.


Eventually, as we drive toward the future, I'm predicting a time when all of our vehicles will have the ability to communicate with each other so my car will know and respond to your car when you slam on your brakes because of an unexpected pedestrian despite your car being 5 cars in front of mine. I likely wouldn't even be able to see your brake lights, but my call will be able to sense it. I bet there will be a day when the roads will be able to talk to our vehicles and send us a message that the shady curve that is 3.2 miles ahead just developed some black ice in the right lane and then our vehicle automatically adjusts it's speed and changes lanes appropriately.


Don't think so? Well 27 years ago, if I would have told you that your phone was going to be the best camera you own and that it's internal storage capacity was going to be 512 GB, you would have thought I was crazy. (Total Side Note: I paid $3000+ for my first blazing fast computer in 1995 because it had a 3 GB hard drive. I said to myself then, "When, in my life time, am I ever going to be able to fill up a 3 GB hard drive?" In comparison, 3 minutes of a 4K video is 1 GB. That means my entire hard drive, without an operating system (Windows 95) would have only been able to hold a maximum of 9 minutes of 4K video and the processor wouldn't have even been able to play the video.)


With all that, we still need you.


Thank you and Drive Safe, Missoula.




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