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Officials urge caution as road conditions worsen

Published On: Dec 09 2013 10:39:31 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 09 2013 10:39:59 PM MST
MISSOULA Mont. -

Driving in western Montana is treacherous.  Snow falling on already slick roads has made travel extremely dangerous.

There have been dozens of accidents, including one near Florence that put two people in the hospital with serious injuries.

It's become so dangerous, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Departments and Montana Highway Patrol are asking drivers to limit travel if at all possible.
 
NBC Montana met with highway troopers who have been hustling all day.  Between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monday troopers responded to 73 weather-related wrecks, but they tell us there are ways you can avoid dangerous winter accidents.   

Chad Dever, a Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant, has seen his fair share of accidents.  He tells NBC Montana he was involved in a collision just Monday morning.

“On the way to work this morning myself and another sergeant got rear-ended in a crash on Reserve Street because someone was following too close,” Dever tells us.  “Roads in a lot of places are deceptively icy, and with the black ice people don't realize that they actually are really bad.”  

Dever says the keys to safe winter driving, slow down and giving yourself enough space to come to a complete stop.

“If you could talk to all of the people who crashed today they said they wished they would have just took a little more time and slowed down and realized how bad the roads are,” says Dever.

He tells us right now roads and highways are treacherous because of black ice hiding under fresh snow; that's why he wants to remind the public to wear their seat belts.   

“We had a double ejection earlier today because people weren't wearing their seat belts,” he says.   

Dever also wants to remind drivers, if you're not getting good traction, to get your tires looked at.  

“We hear a lot of people say ‘Well I put on my brakes and I just kept going,’ part of that is slow down, keep your distance and get new tires if you need them, please,” Dever says.  

Authorities are advising people to stay off the roads and limit travel as much as possible.

With more snow expected and rapidly changing conditions, you will want to download our NBC Montana Weather App. You can find it in Apple and Android app stores by searching for NBC Montana.

And remember to tune in to NBC Montana Today to find out what you need to know before you head out of your house in the morning.