Rules of the Road For Montana Drivers

When you are driving in your home state, you likely know all the rules that you need to follow on the roads. While many of the traffic laws are based on common sense and following posted signs and signals properly, that doesn’t mean that all of the rules are the same in every state. If you are planning on traveling or moving to Montana, you will need to be aware of the rules of the road listed below that may differ from those to which you are accustomed to following in your own state.

Licenses and permits

  • New residents are required to transfer their license to Montana one within 60 days of living in the state.

  • Students taking driver’s education are eligible for a license at 15. Those not taking a driver’s education course must be 16.

  • A Traffic Education Learner Permit allows students taking driver’s education courses to drive a motor vehicle. Students must be accompanied by either a driver instructor or a licensed guardian or parent.

  • A Traffic Education Permit only allows students to operate a motor vehicle under supervision from a traffic instructor as part of a traffic education course that is approved by the state.

  • A Learner License is available starting at 15 and is only available to those who have completed driver’s education. This license must be used for six months prior to applying for a Montana license.

  • No online driver’s education courses are approved in the state of Montana.

Headlights

  • Headlights must emit amber or white light. Tinted or colored headlights are not permitted unless the covering or tint is a part of the original manufacturer equipment.

  • High-beam headlights must be dimmed when within 1,000 feet of a driver heading towards the vehicle and within 500 feet when approaching a vehicle from behind.

  • Headlights must be used when visibility reaches less than 500 feet due to weather or environmental conditions such as dirt or smoke.

General rules

  • Signaling - When making a turn or slowing, drivers are required to use a turn signal, brake light or appropriate hand signal a minimum of 100 feet prior to doing so. This should be increased to 300 feet in sunlight.

  • License plate lights - License plate lights are required and must emit a white light that is visible up to 50 feet from behind the vehicle.

  • Muffler - Mufflers are required and must prevent unusual or excessive noise.

  • Seat belts - Drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts. Children weighing under 60 pounds and 6 years old or less must be in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their size and weight.

  • Fluorescent pink signs - Montana uses fluorescent pink as a background color on signs that provide directions for incident management. Drivers are required to follow the directions.

  • Roundabouts - Drivers should never pass another vehicle when driving in a roundabout, which is also known as a traffic circle.

  • Right of way - Pedestrians have the right of way any time that not yielding could result in an accident or injury.

  • School buses - Drivers are not required to stop when a bus is loading or unloading children on an adjacent street, where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway or when on a divided highway. However, they must stop any other time when the stop arm is out and the lights are on.

  • Funeral processions - Funeral processions have the right of way except when encountering emergency vehicles. Vehicles and pedestrians are required to yield to any funeral procession.

  • Texting - Some cities in Montana have passed laws that make it illegal to text and drive and talk on a cell phone and drive. Check local ordinances to ensure you are in compliance.

  • Following - Drivers are required to leave four seconds of space or more between them and the vehicle they are following. This space should increase based on weather, road and traffic conditions.

  • Animals - Drivers must yield the right of way to animals that are being herded, driven or ridden. If the animal is passing in the same direction as the vehicle, drive slowly and leave plenty of space. Never honk the horn.

  • Accidents - Any accident in which there are injuries or death must be reported to the police.

The above rules of the road, along with those that are common throughout the states, are important for you to know when visiting or moving to Montana. If you have any questions you can reference the Montana Driver Manual for more information.


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