Missoula appears to be the riskiest place in the state for drivers, according to a new study.
The city contains the Top 5 most dangerous intersections for crashes in Montana, with the Top 4 most common crash locations on Reserve Street.
The study, which analyzed the 2014-2016 car crash statistics kept by the Montana Department of Transportation, was compiled by a partnership between the Billings law firm Ragain & Cook and marketing company 1point21 Interactive.
Reserve Street’s junction with Mullan Road topped the list, with 121 different crashes during the three-year period the study examined — which averages out to a crash every nine days. That crossing was followed on the list by Reserve’s intersections with Brooks Street, West Broadway and Third Street, with the corner of East Broadway and Van Buren Street rounding out the Top 5.
In 2009, Missoula's Long-Range Transportation Plan also found Reserve and Mullan to be the most accident-prone intersection.
At 58, Missoula had more than a third of the 163 most dangerous intersections in Montana ranked in the study, with Billings coming in second with 43.
Seven of the 10 most dangerous intersections on the list are in Missoula, with a pair in Helena and one in Billings also included among the highest crash index ratings. Missoula also has 14 of the top 25 on the list.
The Billings law firm that conducted the study pointed to roundabouts as one of the useful ways to reduce the number of crashes, citing an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study that found they reduced crashes by 37 percent. The reduction could be attributed to drivers not trying to beat yellow lights and the fact that traffic flowing in one direction minimizes the risk of head-on collisions, the Montana crash study said.
“Although roundabouts have somewhat of a negative stigma in the public’s eyes, studies have shown that, over time, they are unanimously safer than traditional traffic intersections,” the study stated.