a safety movement from the
Montana Department of Transportation

Roadway Departure Crashes

There's a very important reason we heard the phrases "hands on the wheel" and "focus on the road" as we learned how to drive. When your attention leaves the road, your vehicle becomes a fast-moving, undirected object that carries at least 2 tons of weight in the event of an impact. Roadway departure crashes occur when the driver does not have full control over the navigation of their vehicle and the vehicle leaves its designated lane of travel. These crashes can be caused by a multitude of reasons including speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, passing maneuvers, texting, or roadway conditions.

The MDT has defined roadway departure crashes as non-junction crashes resulting in one of the following crash types:

  • Overturning;
  • Fixed object;
  • Head-on; or
  • Sideswipe-opposite direction crashes.

Roadway departure crashes can have costly consequences; including a totaled vehicle, towing, insurance increases, or a citation. It could come at the highest price of all: your life or the life of someone else involved in the crash. Roadway departure crashes account for approximately 60 percent of the fatal crashes in Montana. Many lives have been shattered as a result of hands and focus off the wheel. Don't be one of them!

As you look forward to warmer temperatures and road trips, check out these 7 Road Trip Reminders for behaviors to avoid that take your hands and focus off the road.