Friday, May 24, 2024

Larry Bennett is the 'Road Report Guy'

Mineral Independent | November 15, 2023 12:00 AM

“Hit the road, Jack” … so the beloved 1961 Ray Charles tune goes.

Except for this time around it's Larry; Larry Bennett from Superior that hits the road. 

Ironically, Bennett is a commuting airplane mechanic who travels to and from Missoula for work each day with a simple and thoughtful social media goal, helping to ensure others don’t jackknife along the way. 

 Bennett grew up in Superior and left after high school to join the Navy. There he learned how to work on airplanes and has made a career of it. After working for the Orlando Magic basketball team taking care of their team plane and also the owners’ planes in Michigan, Bennett always desired to get back to Montana.  So, two years ago he took a job with Neptune Aviation in Missoula and has been commuting ever since. 

 “Growing up in small town Superior everyone always helped each other,” remarked Bennett. “So, after I started making the drive, I thought what a great way to help out a little. I started sending a quick road update on how I see the roads on my drive. If it helps one person to feel better about their drive or one of their family members it’s a great way to help.” 

 Now as a daily Facebook morning routine, Bennett takes note of his drive along the way to Missoula and types up a quick report for those also needing to brave the trek. His day-to-day posts garner dozens of comments, likes, and thank-yous from countless locals on the Mineral County Mt. Community page. His trusty updates have become something area commuters look forward to hearing each sunrise in the winter months, and at times are even more dependable and informational than the states 511 travel website. 

Bennett said, “I leave Superior at 0530 get to work about 0630 depending on the weather, and start at 0700 I work until 1730 and head home after work. I do try and stay one day a week in Missoula and have dinner with my Mom. When I get to work, I will almost always sit in the car and send out a road report. I have seen a few wrecks and cars in the ditch.”

Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case for Bennett, even though he’s been racking up the miles. He admitted, “I’ve had the car start to slide some but it’s been a good reminder to slow down. I believe that’s the number one cause of accidents in the winter going too fast. I’ve had a few vehicles pass me and then down the road I see them in the ditch. I look at it this way I can slow down and take an extra 15 minutes to get to work or I can go fast and spend half the day waiting on a tow truck or not make it at all.”

 The Facebook celebrity hasn’t gone to his head, Bennett genuinely cares for his friends and neighbors who have to make the same treacherous drive in the wintertime. He noted, “I am glad that people enjoy the road reports, but also everyone must remember that I drive at 0530 and by 0730 a lot can change on the roads in the winter.” Bennett has been considering doing a trip report on the road conditions for his way back home each day, he leaves Missoula around 5:30 p.m.  

His greatest advice for fellow drivers is, “As always, the best thing to do is slow down some.” Bennett shared, “The best tip is to slow down just because the speed limit is 80 does not mean you have to go 80. Even in the summer I only go 60 into work and 65 on the way home most of the time. Also, have a good blanket just in case you do get stuck and a phone.”

Every morning he said, “I mostly listen to rock music on the drive and look for deer or elk.” During the summertime, he doesn’t send a road report but if there is a major accident or road blockage, he will gladly spread the word on Facebook. So, for your next trip to Missoula for doctors’ appointments or shopping this winter, make sure to check for Larry Bennett’s road report on the Mineral County Mt. Community page, you’ll be glad you did.