Law enforcement officials issue warning about driving in winter conditions

Posted at 9:28 AM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 11:28:34-05

First responders were called to a significant number of incidents across the state due to the latest storm system that moved through Montana.

From 11 a.m. on Sunday, February 3 to 11 a.m. on Monday, February 4, there were more than 80 slide-offs and 180 crashes reported by the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP).

MHP Sergeant Alex Betz urges drivers to slow down, check road reports, and plan for extra time when driving on winter roads.

Even on short trips people should always have appropriate clothing with them.

“Take a big coat, hat, gloves, things like that because it may be awhile before somebody can get to you. Turn your hazards on and stay inside your vehicle,” said Betz.

At -20 degrees Fahrenheit wind chill, a person can experience frostbite in less than thirty minutes.

“Five minutes in cold weather can begin the process of frostbite on exposed skin,” explained Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.

Dutton added it’s worth investing in your vehicle to make sure it’s ready for the weather.

“You’re going to spend more on an injury accident than tires and it could cost your your life,” said Dutton.

For the safety of everyone, law enforcement would also like to remind drivers to slow down when they see flashing emergency lights and give first responders plenty of space.

“Please give those first responders and those citizens that are involved in that incident some space,” said Betz. “Don’t go blowing by them at highway speeds. It’s so dangerous out there– if we could all reduce our speeds a little bit we’ll get there safely and first responders can do their jobs.”

-Reported by John Riley/MTN News