Accidental Death Rate High In Flathead and State - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Accidental Death Rate High In Flathead and State

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KALISPELL -

Nationally, accidental death ranks as the fifth most common cause of death. In the Flathead, and in Montana, it is the third most common killer.

According to the Flathead County Community Health Needs Assessment for 2012-2013, for unintentional injuries in general, the state of Montana has a higher death rate than Flathead county. For just motor vehicle fatalities, Flathead county counts 33 for every 100,000 people. The state of Montana sees a little more than 25.

"Oftentimes they're associated with our seat belt use, which in Montana can run around 70%. That means seven in ten people always wear a seat belt," explained Joe Russell, a health officer with the Flathead City-County Health Department.

On October 17, ABC Fox Montana reported that a car crossed over into the wrong lane on US 93 in Kalispell, killing two--one instance of alcohol's role on the road.

"A lot of our motor vehicle deaths are alcohol related," said Russell.

Driving slower and leaving more space between you and the car up ahead are small things everyone can do to curb this trend, but Russell explains that the law needs to change.

"I think we should have a primary seat belt law in Montana," said Russell.

Until that happens, Russell asks Montanans to do two things.

"We've put a lot into our vehicle technology. It only works when you wear your seat belt and it doesn't work at all if you're intoxicated and driving," said Russell.

The health assessment also points out that heart disease and cancer are the top two most common killers in the Flathead, the state, and the nation.

On December 3, in the last twenty-four hours alone, Montana Highway Patrol says they have responded to more than twenty accidents in Flathead county. Across the state, Highway patrol has gotten more than 300 incident reports since midnight.

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