Montana's Most Hazardous Activity: Driving To Work?

<p>Writer–on-the-Range Alan Kesselheim describes the most hazardous activity in Montana -- driving, with a particular focus on Hwy 191 through Gallatin Canyon. Every western state has a similar, hazardous route.</p>
May 16, 2007, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The Gallatin Canyon between Bozeman and Big Sky, Mont. is the second-busiest commuting corridor in the state, and the most dangerous. Between 5,500 and 7,500 drivers navigate the perilous gantlet of Highway 191 daily, on their way to work at booming construction sites, the popular Yellowstone National Park, and crowd-pleasing ski resorts."

"For these thousands of drivers and their passengers, it may be the most dangerous thing they ever do, and yet they take it on routinely enough that it becomes mundane. For all of us, unless we live in an active war zone, driving is statistically chancier than anything else in our lives. We may fixate on terrorists and nasty encounters with bears or mountain lions, but for true fear and loathing, nothing trumps time behind the wheel."

"Since 1996 there have been 21 deaths and 374 injuries along this one stretch of road. White crosses bloom on every curve. In a recent, and typical, three-year period there were 367 reported collisions between vehicles and wildlife. Who knows how many more went unreported?"

I'd like to think that my neighborhood highway nightmare is an anomaly, a Montana-based vortex of tragedy. Not so. Every state in the West has its version of the same syndrome. {Kesselheim describes particularly hazardous routes in WY, CA, CO, OR, and AK}.

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, May 13, 2007 in Writers on the Range via San Francisco Chronicle
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