An Augusta man who died Thursday evening as a result of injuries he received in an accident along Interstate 95 in Pittsfield raised the number of fatalities on Maine roads in 2009 to 158, authorities said.
Alton Grover, 60, died when the Jeep Liberty in which he was a passenger slid off the interstate in the southbound lane and rolled roof-first into a tree, a Maine State Police dispatcher said. The accident was reported at 6:14 p.m.
Provided no one died late New Year’s Eve, the 2009 figure is three more than the 2008 toll of 155 but is still considered one of the lowest on record, according to Lauren Stewart, director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.
In 2007, the state recorded 183 traffic fatalities, and in 2006 it had 188.
Fewer walkers and bicyclists died on Maine roads in 2009 than last year, but more ATV users and motorcyclists were killed, Highway Safety figures state.
“Deaths related to motorcycles went up this year,” Stewart said. “That number is at 22.”
Last year, only 18 people died on motorcycles, while 21 deaths were recorded in 2007.
“It usually averages around 20,” Stewart said.
Ten pedestrians died on Maine roads during 2009, down from 12 in 2008.
“We had zero bicycle fatals this year, compared to four last year,” Stewart said. “However, ATV deaths on the road went up to five, from one last year.”
There also was one moose-related fatality this past year, and zero the year before.
The alcohol- and speeding-related death figures for 2009 are not yet available, Stewart said.
Highway Safety and Maine State Police records show the three previous safest years since 1959 were 1982, when 166 people were killed in highway crashes, and 2005 and 2000, when 169 people were killed.
The lowest number of fatalities was recorded in 1959, when 136 people died on Maine roads, and the highest was in 1970, when 276 people were killed, Stephen McCausland, state police spokesman, has said.
Michelle Ward, a Maine Bureau of Highway Safety fatal accident system analyst, said Thursday she will keep her fingers crossed that no one else dies on New Year’s Eve and the number of highway fatalities for 2009 does not increase.