Maine is seeing an increase in pedestrian deaths, officials say
In 2021, there have been 20 pedestrian fatalities.
AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Recent data shows Maine has seen more pedestrian fatalities in the last few years.
Among the deaths in 2021, three pedestrians were killed in Augusta in August when a driver allegedly fell asleep.
In September, a crash claimed the life of Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Gross.
And earlier this month, a man died in Bangor while he was trying to cross Broadway.
State officials and advocacy groups say they are coming together to try to fix this issue.
Since 2015, the number of pedestrians killed in Maine crashes have been on an upward trend.
According to the Maine Department of Transportation, 20 pedestrians have died this year.
While that is unofficial data, the department says this year has tied the record set in 2017 making it one of the deadliest years for pedestrian crashes.
Officials say these crashes can happen any time, but data shows the evening hours are the most dangerous for pedestrians.
“November and December- those are our two biggest months for pedestrian crashes,” said Patrick Adams, MDOT’s active transportation planner “Poor light conditions make it more difficult for drivers to see and make it more difficult for pedestrians to be seen.”
Distracted driving also is a major factor in these crashes. As technology progresses, officials say we have more distractions in our vehicles.
“Our vehicles themselves have plenty of bells and whistles that distract a driver when they’re on the road,” Adams said.
For pedestrians, it’s imperative they know how to walk carefully so they can get to where they need to go safely
Wear reflective clothing, carry a flashlight, and be sure to stay out of a driver’s blind spot.
If you’re a driver, you need to be alert, at all times.
“This is a time of year to not be a passive driver and to really pay attention, and not be a passive pedestrian either, but you’re sometimes forced into the road, so it’s really up to the driver at that point to do what you can to reduce the risk,” explained Jean Sideris, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Regardless of whether you’re a driver or pedestrian, you are required to follow road rules. If you’re a pedestrian, use a crosswalk if there’s one nearby. Vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians. However, if there is no crosswalk nearby, pedestrians have the duty to yield to vehicles. Officials say sometimes that can cause some confusion.
“It’s really difficult sometimes when you’re behind the wheel of a car to see somebody, so do not assume that they can see you,” said Adams. “Do not assume they will stop. Take the extra time before you start crossing, before you step out in the road, to make sure that the driver sees you and is slowing down and stopping for you.”
“The reason we say ‘slow down’ so much is one, small increases in speed can have dramatic increases in risk of severe injury or fatality,” said Sideris.
Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine are working together to fix this issue, but they say, it will take some time.
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