December 2013 Archives

The Professional Truck Driver in the Next Lane May Be Over His Hours of Service

Winter driving is dangerous to begin with. But as individual motorists we also have to share the roads and highways with heavy tractor-trailer combinations driven by what we hopefully assume are "professional" drivers. Unfortunately, sometimes these drivers aren't nearly as "professional" as they would have us or even their own trucking companies believe.

Winter Driving Tips

At Paoli Law Firm we're well aware of the hazards of all types of driving, especially highway driving. Couple that with severe weather conditions, and winter driving can make the most joyous season the most tragic. We've represented many individuals and families who have experienced these severe crashes. From passenger vehicle crashes and rollovers to eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer fatalities, we've learned of many hazards on the road and valuable tips to help stay safe.

Winter Driving


Montana has one of the highest highway fatality rates in the nation. All too often people are injured, sometimes fatally, by someone else's negligent driving. The Montana Highway Patrol's 2012 annual report includes alarming statistics:

  • There were 20,295 crashes reported (one crash every 26 minutes).

  • There were 205 fatalities in 192 fatal crashes (one fatality every 43 hours).

  • There were 7,470 injuries in 5,426 injury crashes (one injury every 70 minutes).

  • The top five contributing causes of crashes (from highest to lowest) were inattentive driving, driving too fast for conditions, failing to yield right of way, driving erratically, recklessly, or negligently, and following too closely.


Many of these 2012 crashes were close to home:

  • There were 1,560 crashes investigated and 24 MHP Traffic Fatalities in District I (Sanders, Mineral, Missoula & Ravalli Counties).

  • There were 202 crashes in Mineral County, resulting in 3 fatalities and 54 injuries.

  • There were 2,054 crashes in Missoula County, resulting in 7 fatalities and 571 injuries.

  • There were 168 crashes in Sanders County, resulting in 6 fatalities and 58 injuries.

  • There were 578 crashes in Ravalli County, resulting in 5 fatalities and 171 injuries.

  • There were 2,036 crashes in Cascade County, resulting in 7 fatalities and 468 injuries.


Although severe weather and road conditions can happen during any month of the year in Montana, drivers face additional risks and responsibilities while driving in winter weather. The Montana Highway Patrol reports that more crashes occurred between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. than any other hours of the day, more on Thursdays than any other day of the week, and more in December than any other month of the year.

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