How will your summer end?

A message from the Director's Office of the Montana Department of Transportation

The Labor Day holiday weekend signifies the final celebration of summer. Montanans load up the boat or RV for one last trip, travel to a final summer getaway; or attend a gathering for friends and family. We consider it the end of a season, but sadly, it has been the end of life for 16 people in the last 5 years. They won’t be camping or attending a barbecue with loved ones this weekend because they died in a fatal crash.

It’s all too easy to take safety for granted and assume that you or someone you love will never be a fatality. Take a drive down any highway in Montana and you’ll see white crosses dotting the right of way. In the wreckage of metal and glass, someone never walked away. Some took their last breath there beside the road, and some would spend their final moments in an emergency room. Many of these lives ended tragically because of a completely preventable factor: impaired driving.

When someone gets behind the wheel after drinking, whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, they are making a choice that carries the weight of a life. In a second, you can shatter lives forever with that choice. If you die on the road, your loved ones will live with your choice. If the life you take is not your own, you will carry the guilt that your choice took away another person’s. Inmates serving time for impaired vehicular homicide have commented that they wish they could go back and make a different choice; to bring back the life or lives they took, and ultimately regain their own lives and freedom.

So why risk everything when a plan and commitment to safety can prevent shattered lives?

Safe driving is about choice. If we can each make the right choices by only driving sober, wearing our seat belts, slowing down, etc., Montana can reach the goal of Vision Zero. Make a commitment to yourself, your loved ones and everyone else on the road to end the summer safely.

- Director Mike Tooley

Visit the MDT website for resources such as the Plan2Live campaign and Vision Zero Initiative.