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Difficult to blame speeding for fatal Montana accidents

There are many causes for automobile collisions. In many cases, the major contributing factor is the negligence of one or more driver. Negligence can come in various forms, but when it comes to assigning liability for a serious or fatal accident, it must be proven that the driver failed to uphold the person's duty to drive safely while behind the wheel. Whether a driver is distracted, speeding, intoxicated or being reckless, these are all factors that could contribute to a fatal collision.

Many drivers in Montana most likely recall a time in the 1990's when daytime speed limits were not posted or assigned on the highways. The basic rule that applied to drivers on these roads just required motorists to drive in a reasonable and prudent manner, which was based on the weather and road condition on that day. This began in 1995; however, the Montana Supreme Court tossed that out after finding it unconstitutionally vague.

Since 1999, the daytime speed limit on Montana interstate highways was set to 75 miles-per-hour. Despite that, over the years legislators sought to raise the daytime speed limit to 80 mph and even 85 mph. What was the reason behind that? Statistics provided by the Montana Highway Patrol indicate that fatalities actually increased following the implementation of a speed limit.

Because of this and the yearly statistic since this 75 mph speed limit was issued, data specialists are not able to determine if speeding is a major contributing factor. Factors such as alcohol and wearing no seat belts are more often sited as a major factor in a fatal accident. While statistics from the 1990's up until 2013 show no causal trend, the speed limit has remained.

Despite the argument that speeding is difficult to blame for fatal accidents occurring in Montana, serious and fatal accidents caused by speeding do occur. Because of that, it is important that victims and loved ones understand how to move forward with a civil action following a fatal accident. It might be helpful to speak with an attorney experienced in wrongful death suits.

Source: Ravalli Republic, "Fatal accidents difficult to blame entirely on speed of vehicle," Dec. 6, 2014

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