As any Montanan knows, this is an exceptional place to live. With its open spaces, wildlife, gorgeous scenery, and long winters, there’s no place quite like Montana — and that goes for driving here, too.
While the state may historically be known for its limitless speeds allowed on the road, even with a speed limit in place, there are still unusual things about driving in Montana.
You may occasionally run into traffic, but it’s nothing close to what people in other states experience. And why is that? Montana’s population only recently surpassed the 1 million mark, and it remains in the lowest 10 states when it comes to the number of people.
Of course, just because there’s a lack of traffic doesn’t mean drivers don’t need to pay attention. In fact, because there aren’t a lot of people on the road, it’s common to see distracted drivers texting or even reading a book, says local State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred.
Distinctive to Montana is the number of open intersections — that is, intersections with no stop signs — where drivers must yield to the person on the right.
Most Montanans know about this and have no problem. In fact, Alfred estimates that about 9 out of every 10 intersections in the Great Falls area are open intersections, so it’s only a strange sight to people from out of state.
“It’s very prevalent, and it’s very unique,” Alfred says.
Sharing the road — with wildlife
Montana is no stranger to wildlife, and you’ve likely spotted several elk, bison, deer, raccoons, owls, or any number of other animals as you’ve been driving.
“We share the road with animals,” Alfred says. “Those are just things that we have grown accustomed to.”
While avoiding wildlife is best, occasionally people hit an animal, and who pays for the damage is another unique aspect of Montana. In open range areas, cows can wander freely, which means, “if you hit a cow and kill the cow, you have to pay for the cow,” Alfred says.
On the other hand, some areas are closed range, which means, if you hit a cow, the farmer is required to pay for any damage to you or your car.
That’s why it’s important to have the right insurance, as paying for a wreck with a live animal (as opposed to one that was already dead) requires comprehensive coverage.
Driving in snow
Other states have snow, but little compares to Montana winters.
“We have a lot of slick roads very often in the winter,” Alfred says. “The good thing about most Montanans is they have experience, so they know they need to go slow. They know how to drive on those roads.”
If you’re new to the state or to driving, Alfred recommends visiting an empty parking lot to practice sliding. After all, while driving slowly should prevent slides, it’s important to be prepared.
Every local — and everyone who visits — knows the scenery is beautiful. In particular, Alfred recommends Going-to-the-Sun Road, “a spectacular 50 mile, paved two-lane highway” that cuts through Glacier National Park, according to the Montana Office of Tourism.
However, no matter where you drive in the state, you’re sure to enjoy the view.
Whatever your experience on Montana roads, the right insurance will help you drive with peace of mind. For help crafting a policy that works for you, contact State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred.
2817 10th Ave S
Great Falls, MT
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