Maine law enforcement officials are perplexed by a troubling year-end statistic: 2015 has been the worst year for pedestrian deaths in nearly two decades.
Numbers compiled by the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Bureau of Public Safety indicate 18 pedestrians have died this year as of Dec. 23 — the most since 1997 — said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Adults often worry about children getting run over while playing in the street. But no children were among the victims in the past year.
“Unfortunately we’ve had 18 deaths here, all of them adults,” McCausland said. “Unfortunately, most of the time the fault lies with the pedestrians.”
The pedestrian deaths represent about 12 percent of the 149 deaths highway deaths recorded in Maine as of Dec. 23, and that’s consistent with federal statistics.
Pedestrian deaths accounted for about 14 percent of highway deaths nationwide in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nationally, more than two-thirds of fatalities occurred away from intersections and during hours of darkness. Those trends were reflected in the Maine figures, as well.
But Maine’s statistics represented an aberration in terms of demographics. Nationally, children 14 and younger accounted for 21 percent of deaths, NHTSA said.
To stay safe, pedestrians should use cross walks and sidewalks where possible, avoid wearing dark clothing at night and look both ways before crossing a road, McCausland said. It’s a good idea to wear reflective materials and even bring along a flashlight while walking at night, he said.
Furthermore, pedestrians should be wary of cars and trucks, even if they’re in a crosswalk, he said.
While the pedestrian deaths were high, they were nowhere near a record in Maine. There were 33 pedestrian deaths in 1988, and there were higher numbers in the decades before that, McCausland said.
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