Head-on collisions increase in Maine

Excessive speed on an icy road is being blamed for a head-on collision on Route 11 in Moro Plantation in southern Aroostook in this November 2012 file photo.
Trooper Timmy Saucier
Excessive speed on an icy road is being blamed for a head-on collision on Route 11 in Moro Plantation in southern Aroostook in this November 2012 file photo.
Posted July 27, 2014, at 9:26 a.m.
Last modified July 27, 2014, at 9:51 a.m.

You’re driving, in your own lane — and another car is coming right at you.

It’s about as bad as it gets on the road. And it’s happening in Maine more often.

Maine is on pace to experience 25 percent more head-on collisions — the deadliest type of car crashes — this year than last.

The first six months of 2014 saw 500 head-ons and 28 deaths, according to the Public Safety and Transportation departments. The figures don’t include a Rumford couple killed just last week in Brewer.

Officials say they won’t know what’s behind the spike until reconstruction reports come in, but it’s likely a host of reasons.

Texting. Drinking. A moment of looking away.

And in most cases, it didn’t have to happen.

“When it comes to driving, it’s about behavior,” said Pat Moody, manager of driver training at AAA of Northern New England and a member of the Maine Transportation Safety Coalition.

“Almost every crash that we have is avoidable,” he said. “A lot of people in the safety world cringe when they hear ‘accident.’”

Since 2006, the state has spent $300,000 installing centerline rumble strips and another $5.6 million stringing cable median barriers to thwart head-on collisions. The first warns drivers when they’re crossing into the next lane and at risk of a head-on collision, and the second keeps them from barreling over the median into oncoming traffic.

Larry Caron stopped using rooftop signs on his driver education cars 10 years ago after he’d had enough of motorists deciding it would be a kick to steer into his student drivers’ lanes and fake an imminent head-on collision.

“They would do it to be funny,” said Caron, the owner of Roy’s Driver and Rider Education schools. “These are student drivers and they tend to overreact, just turn that wheel like there’s no tomorrow.”

When another driver is coming right at you, he tells students, slam your brakes. Honk your horn.

At the last second, steer to the right — better to nail a tree than another moving car.

For the full story, visit Sun Journal at http://www.sunjournal.com/news/lewiston-auburn-maine/2014/07/27/head-collisions-maine/1562520

 

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