Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – With the first real taste of winter driving behind us, the Montana Highway Patrol is asking Missoula area drivers to take stock of how they fared in the snow.
Public Information Officer Sergeant Jay Nelson spoke to KGVO News about the sheer number of crashes that occurred from Thursday through the weekend.
“Speaking for all the men and women that are Troopers for the Montana Highway Patrol, there has not been any time that our troopers have wondered what should they do next,” began Sergeant Nelson. “That means we literally went from call to call to call, really for the last three days straight (Thursday through Saturday). I think we're pushing, depending on what timeframe you look at, in the last three days, we're well over 400  and probably closer to 500 crashes statewide.”
Nelson said most of the crashes were minor, however, some lives were lost in crashes in the snowstorm.
“We did tragically lose four individuals statewide,” he said. “That was all due to this snowstorm as far as slick roads, etc. But yes, there were four fatalities, but the vast majority was just minor, minor crashes as far as damage with minor injuries.”
Nelson said with winter driving season barely underway that Missoula area drivers should always have a winter emergency kit in their vehicles.
“Please, get that 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, a couple of flares, maybe a non-perishable food item, something that if should you slide off of the road somewhere in Montana and somebody doesn't drive by in quick order, then you could be in your vehicle and stay in your vehicle and survive for a while.”
Just like hunters headed to the backcountry, Nelson urged drivers to let someone know where they are headed and when they plan to arrive, just in case an accident does occur.
“Let somebody know what you're doing,” he said. “Be it a family member, a friend, you name it. So many times and especially in the last three days, we have overdue motorists, and they think they're going on this route, they think they're driving this vehicle. If you can give somebody that you trust some specifics, and then if they don't show up, then it helps us out immensely. We can narrow the search down. We can look at our records, and see if there have been any motor vehicle crashes, matching that description.”
Click here to see a dramatic rescue performed by heroic Montana Highway Patrol Troopers Wade Palmer and T.J. Templeton from 2015 when they rescued two people on an icy Interstate 90 between Missoula and Frenchtown that highlights the importance of slowing down on icy roads and providing room for responding officers and emergency vehicles in an accident.

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