When snow strikes, MHP troopers ready to respond
Just as I hopped into Trooper Brad Moore's patrol car around 4 pm on Thursday, the crash calls poured in.
"You want me to head up further to the 322?" Trooper Moore asked dispatch, over the radio.
Troopers spent the afternoon responding to multiple crashes along various mile markers in the Bozeman Pass area.
"We have two wrecks currently working on the pass" Moore said, as we headed up the Interstate.
He told me some people don't take proper precautions in the snow, leading to a high number of wrecks.
"We know a little bit more than what these people know out here- and that is that the road's not very good" he said, referring to the fact that as people passed his car, they had no idea that several accidents lay up ahead.
"We have this going on- people passing" he said, pointing to a silver car jetting by in the left lane.
As we talked, he looked closer at the silver car.
"Doesn't look like they're wearing their seat belts, either" he said, adding "those are concerns that we have."
He said cars going to fast for conditions make them anxious- because those are often the cars that end up in crashes.
We passed an accident another trooper responded to- a westbound truck high-centered on the concrete median. The left lane was closed off, traffic quickly backed up.
Less than a few miles away, we reached the accident at mile marker 322- Trooper Moore's destination.
A truck traveling eastbound spun out in the snow, and hit the guardrail.
Moore jumped out of the car, and began to take pictures.
He said their job is to investigate the crash, and get it cleared up as fast as they can. And, at the same time, make sure other cars passing by stay safe.
"The first thing that happens is scene safety" Trooper Moore said. "We already have one incident, and we don't want to have any more."
As he walked along the highway processing the scene, Moore said his safety is always a concern, too.
"We could get hurt out here" he said.
MHP troopers stand ready to put themselves on the line when weather strikes.
But Trooper Moore said it's important for drivers to be ready, too.
"Just slow down a little bit, be real aware of your surroundings" he said. "Have a little bit of distance- that breaking distance, that stopping distance. And please wear your seat belt."
Trooper Moore dropped me off at the MHP office in Bozeman about an hour after he was supposed to be done with is work day. He headed back out to help at more crash scenes.
Over the course of Thursday evening, troopers responded to more than 30 incidents.