Montana road conditions + winter driving safety (December 14, 2022)

Crash in Great Falls - photo by LaJuna Taylor
Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 14:07:22-05

GREAT FALLS — With snow and ice covering many roads, driving in many parts of Montana is very treacherous today. There have been numerous slide-offs and minor crashes reported in Great Falls and across the region.

The Great Falls Police Department said in a social media post: "We've already responded to several incidents of semis getting stuck around town, mostly on 10th Ave S eastbound near 20th St. Please do your part by following these winter driving rules (that easily apply to semis and other drivers)."

They included these "winter driving rules"

  • Allowing extra space
  • Do not cut drivers off
  • Do not pull out in front of drivers
  • Do not force drivers to slam on brakes or stop
  • Clear all your windows
  • Allow extra travel time
  • Allow extra braking time/space
  • Do not pass a snowplow unless necessary

Check the Montana Department of Transportation website before you hit the road to find out which roads are snow-covered, which ones have ice and/or slush, and if any roads are closed.

MDT provides the following safety information:

  1. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
  2. Clean off your car. Keep windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice.
  3. Turn off cruise control.
  4. Always buckle up.
  5. Slow down in poor visibility conditions.
  6. Maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles.
  7. Expect ice on bridges and in shady spots.
  8. Don't pass snowplows unless it's absolutely necessary.
  9. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving at the start of the season.
  10. Check to be sure all four tires are in good condition.
  11. Don't wait until the last minute to get snow tires mounted.
  12. Keep an emergency travel kit in your car.

Safety Around Snow Plows: Our snowplows are on the road for your safety. When you encounter a snowplow, remember:

  • Don’t crowd the plow.
  • Plow drivers have limited visibility so don’t assume your vehicle is in view.
  • Maintain a safe distance behind the snowplow.
  • Plows aren't just removing snow. They may also be spreading sand or deicer on the road.
  • Be patient—never pass through a white out.
  • The driver will pull over when it is safe to do so to allow vehicles to pass.
  • Slow down.

Plows are large and move slower than highway speeds. It is difficult to judge distance when approaching the plow so slow down immediately to avoid a collision.