There were fewer crashes statewide in Montana in 2020 than in 2019, but more people died in those crashes.

That’s just one of the statistics from the recently released 2020 Montana Highway Patrol annual report.

Public Information Officer Jay Nelson shared the information with KGVO on Tuesday.

In 2019 there were 22,939 crashes in 2019 that resulted in 184 fatalities, however there were 213 fatalities in 2020 from 20,803 total crashes. Nelson said one of the added factors was speed.

“The facts remain that there was a large increase in fatalities that involved speed,” said Nelson. “Speed is something that we all deal with, especially in Montana's great open spaces. We want to get from point A to point B as quick as we can, but we have to maintain our speed in a safe manner for the existing conditions, not just what the speed limit says. That speed limit sign is the maximum speed for the ideal condition.”

Nelson also said that the combination of drugs and alcohol for drivers can be fatal.

“We don't want to take away from anybody's fun, but we can't have people behind the wheel that are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, and alcohol was the big one, the big increase that we seen and direct result in a lot of those fatalities and so sometimes those two factors speed and alcohol many times go together,” he said.

Nelson said MHP troopers now have more tools at their disposal when they encounter a dangerous drug, such as fentanyl.

“Just recently I witnessed two of our troopers responded to a residence and Red Lodge or we were down there for an event, and through their training and through the equipment that is provided by the Highway Patrol, we were able to take an individual that I thought was deceased that overdosed on fentanyl, and give them a Narcan drug which is all of our troopers carry and literally that individual was able to stand up and walk to the ambulance,” he said.

Nelson said the Highway Patrol has moved its headquarters from Helena to Boulder, thus saving taxpayer dollars.

“We're no longer paying lease money and we're no longer spending taxpayer money,” he said. “We're in a facility that's already state owned. It's quite a bit larger. And so not only is it fiscally responsible, but it allows the opportunity for the Montana Highway Patrol to expand their training and professionalism that we offer the citizens of Montana.”

Click here to read the 2020 Montana Highway Patrol annual report.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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