Rise in the number of fatalities on Maine's roadways a concern | News
AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Lauren Stewart, director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, has gathered data on motor vehicle accidents on Maine's roads for nearly a decade.
"One crash is too many," she stated. "There are no good crashes and there are no good fatalities."
"Right now, our 10 year average for motor vehicle fatalities is 177. This year, to this date today, we are at 89 vehicle fatalities," she explained. "So how does that compare to last year? It looks significantly higher."
Stewart says you have to look at the state's motor vehicle crash statistics with perspective, knowing that it only takes a couple of accidents to raise the numbers to an alarming rate, but she is disturbed by a couple trends she has seen developing this year.
"One of the things that I am most concerned about is the number of young drivers who are not wearing their seatbelts. They are being ejected from the motor vehicles when they are in a motor vehicle crash, and they are dying as a result of it."
Another stat that has caught her attention is the fact there were 15 motorcycle fatalities last year and there have already been 12 so far this year.
"The majority of them, honestly, are involving another motor vehicle," explained Stewart. "They are not being seen by the motor vehicle. The motor vehicle is turning out in front of them. That is the majority of what we are seeing with our motorcycle crashes this year."
Eric Fuller, with United Bikers of Maine, says motorcyclists have always been vulnerable on the roads, but he feels things have gotten worse for bikers recently.
"As a longtime rider, I find that the last - especially the last 8 years or so, have really been much more dangerous," he said. "The environment out there, and I don't mean just for motorcyclists but for all drivers, has definitely deteriorated."
Both Fuller and Stewart are asking drivers and riders to pay more attention to the task at hand, and not use their hands for eating, texting, or talking on the phone. They say distracted drivers, as well as aggressive drivers, are helping fuel the rise in accidents.
"It is disturbing and alarming," said Stewart. "We have had a couple of really great years on Maine roadways. I don't know necessarily what we can attribute that to, certainly not one thing."
She believes an improved economy and lower gas prices have more drivers on the road, also contributing to the rise in fatalities on Maine's roadways.
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