Maine seeing increase in traffic fatalities this year

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - A busy summer travel season is on the horizon, and Maine is already seeing an increase in traffic fatalities this year.

According to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, traffic fatalities so far this year are already up 40% from where they were in 2021.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, officials have a few reminders to keep you and your family safe on the roads.

“Slow down, put down your phone, pay attention to the road,” said Jim Tasse, Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

Director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Lauren Stewart says the increase follows a nationwide trend.

She says they think people got used to speeding with less people on the roads during the pandemic.

“So now that there’s more cars out there, they haven’t reverted back to safe driving behavior,” said Stewart.

Stewart says they’ve already seen six motorcycle fatalities and five pedestrians killed this year.

Motorcycle safety instructor Kyle Newell encourages all motorcyclists to make sure drivers can see them.

“Put yourself in their rear view mirror or their driver’s side mirror or when you’re in traffic, ride closer to that centerline. That way drivers can lean towards you, can see you as well,” said Kyle Newell, A&J Motorcycle Safety School instructor.

The same can apply for bicyclists.

“Always riding on the right. Always obeying traffic control devices such as stop lights and stop signs and being predictable, using signals to indicate changes in position or making turns,” said Jim Tasse, Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

Officials remind everyone to share the road and limit distractions whether you’re walking, biking, or driving.

“Look before you cross. Remember, the crosswalk is the safest place to cross, and that’s the point at which cars will yield to you,” said Tasse.

Stewart says they are continuing to work with partners across the state to remind people to pay attention to their driving behaviors.

“Were hoping folks will remember to buckle up and survive the Memorial Day activities,” said Stewart.

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