MONTANA - Fifty-eight deaths on Montana's roadways in 2021 were partly due to distracted driving, according to Sgt. Jay Nelson with Montana Highway Patrol. Over sixty five hundred injury crashes in 2021 were also partly due to distracted driving.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

"We're doing worse," Sgt Nelson said. "We have more distractions in the vehicle, from cell phones to Ipads, to movies, to just the large screens we have in our motor vehicles. There are more and more distractions. People are more and more busy. And they need to spend more and more time just looking at the roadway in front of them."

Sgt Nelson added that 63 patrol vehicles were involved in crashes in 2021, and a significant number of those involved distracted driving.

A few years ago, Sgt Nelson's patrol car was hit while he was at the scene of a crash:

"I was on the scene of a motor vehicle car in the Helena area. It was a couple of years ago. I checked everything. I looked at the roadway. I had my emergency lights on. It was a straight stretch of road. And I literally put down my eyes down for a second while I was inside my patrol car to start typing the information in. And it felt like a sledgehammer hit me in back of the head. Luckily, I didn't have to go to the hospital. I was sore. Lots of damage to my patrol car. I didn't even see it coming. And, like I said, I've been doing this for 24 years."

Sgt. Nelson said there have been 43 deaths on Montana's roadways so far in 2022. He reminds people to wear their seatbelts and focus on the road.

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