The Department of Public Safety has launched a new public safety campaign in light of one of the deadliest years in Maine history. The Maine Highway Patrol recorded 171 total highway deaths in 2017, the most recorded since 2007 when 183 drivers died on Maine highways. It wasn’t just Maine drivers who fared poorly last year. In all, twenty-one pedestrians were killed in Maine in 2017, the highest number since 1993. That compares with 18 in 2016 and 32 the year before. Motorcycle riders fared just as poorly last year, with 27 motorcycle riders losing their lives on Maine roads. In order to combat these preventable deaths, Maine is rolling out a new statewide campaign designed to raise awareness of pedestrian and motor safety.
The “Heads Up” campaign involves increased media and advertising as well as public meetings in which the Department of Public Safety will elicit feedback from residents. Many rural areas in Maine lack sidewalks, bike lanes, or adequate lighting. Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland told the Portland Press Herald that while the death counts this year were high, there are many easy steps pedestrians and motorists can take to protect themselves on Maine roads:
Occasionally there’s going to be a spike in the numbers, and that’s what we saw this year. It was a bad year on Maine roads. There are some basic things your mother told you: Look both ways before crossing the street. If it’s nighttime, wear something that can be seen, a reflector, or have a flashlight.
As part of the “Heads Up” campaign, the Department of Public Safety is planning to make reflective patches available for pedestrians and increase police training on how to ensure pedestrian safety. Much of the campaign also concerns safety guidelines specific to winter in light of this year’s brutally cold temperatures.