Now that the speed limit on most Montana interstates is 80 mph, AAA MountainWest wants to remind motorists to execute caution and provide tips to insure safety on our roadways. Safety should be the top priority with motorists, not getting to their destination the fastest. This time of year in Montana also brings about changes in weather, which can alter traction and stopping time to avoid accidents.

AAA MountainWest recognizes the importance of selecting appropriate and enforceable speed limits. When maximum speed limits are correctly set and applied, they improve mobility, motorist safety, and respect for the law. However, speeding is involved in about 13 percent of all crashes-and 33 percent of all fatal crashes. Speeding increases the risk of crash, because there is less time and distance available to respond. Our reaction times-about 1 second for most drivers-doesn’t speed up just because we are going faster.
So how can you protect yourself? AAA MountainWest offers these tips for Montanans when driving at increased speeds:

Regardless of the maximum speed limit on any stretch of road, at no point should anyone drive faster than is safe, given the conditions (wet, snow, sun).

Each driver should always be using three factors to determine his/her safe speed:

  • Visibility- how easy or hard it is to see the full traffic scene
  • Rain, fog and sun can delay your ability to see something critical just ahead
  • If you can’t see at least 4-5 seconds ahead of your vehicle, you’re going to have trouble stopping in time to avoid something that enters your path
  • Traction- how much grip your tires have on the road surface
  • Wet pavement can reduce your tires’ traction by as much as one-third
  • Traffic- how much space you have or don’t have to maneuver your vehicle in traffic
  • Best to slow down if you are “boxed in” by vehicles to either side or your vehicle.

Higher speeds equal:

  • Less time to perceive potential hazards ahead
  • Less time to make decisions about any potential hazards seen
  • Less time to make any maneuvers to avoid trouble
  • Greater chance of injury, due to the greater amounts of energy involved

Recommendation: “Drive your own trip.” Don’t think that just because some other drivers are driving at high speed that you should speed up too.

At every point, you are in control of the speed at which you drive.

AAA MountainWest encourages motorist to not drive distracted and to wear their safety belt every time.