It's a record no state wants. But it is a fact. This year in Maine, 18 pedestrians have been struck and killed by vehicles, the highest number since 1994, when 22 died.
The stats for 2017 still might increase, as two more accidents are under investigation.
Last year, 17 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles in Maine. Eight of the fatalities were in November and December, when the sun sets earlier.
"Clearly something is going on and it's not good,'' John Williams, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, which keeps track of pedestrian deaths, said in an interview with the Bangor Daily News. "While this year is a record, the last few years have been showing an increased number of pedestrian fatalities."
Distractions on both sides
Two years ago, the Maine Department of Transportation started investigating the spike in pedestrian fatalities. Research noted the causes included dangerous intersections as well as distracted drivers and pedestrians.
While more pedestrian deaths occur in cities, more and more people die in rural areas due to speed. According to the Maine DOT, only 20 percent of people hit by a car driving 25 miles per hour are killed, while 80 percent of those hit by a vehicle going at least 45 miles per hour do not survive.
Two years ago, a AAA survey found 80 percent of participants believed that distracted driving was more of a problem than three years earlier. 70 percent admitted using a cell phone while behind the wheel, while 42 percent said they read or sent e-mails and texts while driving.
The same survey reported that 45 percent of drivers have driven 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on residential streets.
This isn't just a Maine problem. Earlier this year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that the number of pedestrians killed in traffic rose 11 percent, to nearly 6,000. That's the largest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities in more than two decades.
The GHSA cited driver distraction, speed, failure to yield, and alcohol for the rise in deaths.
"Everyone's eyes are down looking at their phone instead of paying attention to the road and their immediate environment,'' said a spokesperson.
AAA suggests pedestrians be aware of their environment, especially in crosswalks, and wear reflective clothing when out for an after-dark walk.
Everyone, the organization notes, is a pedestrian at some point during his or her day, week or month.
Pedestrians being struck and killed by distracted drivers is no longer rare. Should your family be a victim of careless driving, contact the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein. Our attorneys know the Maine law and have the experience and expertise to handle even the most complex claims. In over 40 years, the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has helped more than 25,000 injured or disabled Mainers get the justice they deserve. Contact us today for a free and confidential evaluation.