Priority Area 3: Motor Vehicle Crashes

Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are one of the most common causes of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in Montana. MVCs result in huge medical and productivity loss, especially since younger people are disproportionately affected. High risk driving behaviors, such as not using a seatbelt consistently, speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving, are prevalent in Montana. From 2011–2015, 54% of all MVC related fatalities involved a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs, and among fatalities to occupants of vehicles with seatbelts available, nearly 67% were unrestrained. 

Distracted driving is also common; 54% of high school students reported texting or emailing while driving in 2017. From 2011–2016, Montana had an unintentional motor vehicle fatality rate of 19 per 100,000 people compared to the national rate of 11 per 100,000. American Indian Montanans experienced over three times greater age-adjusted mortality rate due to MVCs than Whites, and Montana residents of rural counties have more than double the mortality rate compared with residents of urban or small metro or micropolitan counties.

Live Accordion

Impaired Driving Vulnerability Index: Active

A group of stakeholders from University of Montana School of Public and Community Health Sciences, MT DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division, Billings Area Indian Health Service, Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center, and MT Dept of Transportation Highway Safety Section are working together to investigate the possibility of identifying areas of Montana at highest risk for participating in risky driving behaviors, specifically impaired driving. A vulnerability index for impaired driving would include information about how many crashes related to impaired driving occur, but would also include information about risk and protective factors for engaging in impaired driving. If possible, this tool could be used for targeted assistance to local communities. This project began in January 2021 and is ongoing.

Local and Tribal Health Department Engagement: Inactive

A group of partners from MT DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division, Office of Public Instruction, Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center, MT Dept of Transportation Highway Safety Section, and local health departments, including Custer and Missoula Counties, collaborated on developing a half-day meeting to support needs and interests of Montana communities on motor vehicle crashes. The in-person meeting planned for May 2020 was pushed back to August 24, 2020 and held virtually to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.

Car Seat Safety Messaging: Inactive

Partners from MT DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division, Safe Kids Montana, local Buckle Up programs, MT Dept of Transportation Highway Safety Section, and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies worked together on seasonal car seat safety messaging distributed by Health in the 406 and to Public Health and Safety Division partner newsletters, including groups that distribute information to a variety of health care professionals. You can find examples in the Health in the 406 archives for Injury Prevention messages in June and September 2020.


Interest group meeting materials

Date Agenda Minutes
September 24, 2020 09/24/2020 09/24/2020
June 9, 2020 06/09/2020 06/09/2020
January 8, 2020 01/08/2020 01/08/2020
September 10, 2019 09/10/2019 09/10/2019
May 21, 2019 05/21/2019 05/21/2019

Joint meeting materials


You can also develop customized reports about some of the motor vehicle crash metrics using MT-IBIS. For help with MT-IBIS, contact the Office of Epidemiology and Scientific Support (OESS)

You can also access all recent data reports on multiple topics from OESS or visit the Motor Vehicle and Seat Belt Safety from the Injury Prevention Program to learn more.