Montana’s 2018 highway death toll drops for third year

Tragedy in multiple doses marked the final weeks of 2018 on Montana highways, but preliminary numbers indicate the year’s final fatality toll was still as low as it’s been in nearly 70 years.

A report released Monday by the Montana Highway Patrol said 181 people died last year in traffic crashes. That was the same number recorded in 1989, the state’s centennial year.

Before that, the annual toll hadn’t dipped so low since 1949, when 162 fatalities were recorded. It jumped to 202 the following year and remained above 200 in all but nine years since. The death count peaked at 395 in 1972.

The MHP report presents statistics confirmed through October and “suspected” for the final two months of 2018. A final annual report will be released in the spring.