STATEWIDE (WGME) – The number of pedestrians killed on Maine roads nearly tripled last year from previous years. State officials are turning their attention to safety, offering tips both drivers and pedestrians can use right away.
The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety said 17 pedestrians were killed on roads in 2019. That’s up from six the year before.
“We did have quite the spike this year,” said Nick Brown, the bureau’s highway safety coordinator. Brown said there is no real explanation for the higher death toll.
In April, a mother of four was hit and killed while walking along Yarmouth Road in Gray.
Weeks later, a 66-year-old woman died after she was struck by a car in Buxton.
The Bureau of Highway Safety is launching a program to promote pedestrian safety, similar to what was done in 2018, which was an even deadlier year.
Brown said officials have identified the 21 municipalities with the highest crash rates — places like Augusta, Lewiston and Portland.
Police in those towns can apply for grant funding to step up enforcement and, more importantly, education.
“Safety’s a two-way street. It’s not just the pedestrian’s fault. Sometimes it’s not just the driver’s fault. It can be a mix of the two,” Brown said.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is working with the Maine Department of Transportation to host public forums in those 21 communities.
Brown said pedestrians should wear bright clothing, carry a flashlight and always walk facing the traffic.
He said drivers need to be especially aware once the sun goes down.
“Unfortunately, it’s not something we can fix directly overnight. It does take time and something we are diligent about,” Brown said.
Brown said highway safety officials will be taking a closer look at the numbers and the circumstances of those crashes in the coming months to try to identify patterns and see if there are any additional measures they can take to prevent them.