AUGUSTA — The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and the Maine Department of Transportation have launched a campaign to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related pedestrian deaths. “Heads Up! Safety is a Two-Way Street” aims to educate both drivers and pedestrians of their shared responsibility in road safety.
The past three years have proven to be extremely deadly for pedestrians in the State of Maine. In this short amount of time, 57 pedestrians have lost their lives due to motor vehicle related crashes. In 2015, there were 19 pedestrian fatalities. Followed by 17 in 2016 and 21 pedestrian fatalities this past year. Three deaths have already occurred this year. In response to these fatalities, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and the Maine Department of Transportation have been working together to find solutions to these preventable losses of life.
After review of these pedestrian fatalities, it became apparent that both drivers and pedestrians share the responsibility. A common factor found is that drivers assumed the pedestrian would move out of harm’s way, whereas the pedestrians thought that drivers would stop. When neither party yields, the pedestrian usually loses.
The campaign is calling on drivers to always watch for pedestrians; when in doubt, yield to pedestrians; and drive the speed limit and avoid aggressive maneuvers. Pedestrians are encouraged to be seen, be safe, be sure; be smart and alert; and use marked crosswalks.
In addition to this call for action, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has obtained $25,000 of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be used for special enforcement details throughout the state. A portion of this funding will also be utilized to educate the public through various media outlets. Concurrently, the Maine Department of Transportation has been holding public forums in the 10 community clusters with the highest incidences to determine if any infrastructural changes could help resolve the problem. These community clusters are; Augusta/Hallowell, Bangor/Brewer, Bath/Brunswick, Biddeford/Saco, Camden/Rockland, Lewiston/Auburn, Old Town/Orono, Portland/South Portland, Westbrook/Sanford, and Waterville/Winslow.
“Using this multi-pronged approach; infrastructure, education, and enforcement, we are hoping to see a large reduction in pedestrian fatalities in the upcoming years,” stated Lauren V. Stewart, Director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety. “Being a courteous, safe and responsible road user, whether you are driving, riding, or walking, is what will ultimately make for safer transportation in Maine.”