In 2015, 16 pedestrians were killed and 276 were seriously injured in Maine. 2016 began with a sad reminder when a young pedestrian was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. A few hours later, a man who was crossing the street was seriously injured. In order to bring down the death toll and decrease the number of injuries, some safety measures can be taken by the state, municipalities, drivers and pedestrians themselves.
Road Safety Issues to Address
The responsibility to maintain safe roads lies with the federal and state governments as well as individual municipalities. Some specific measures they can take include:
- Assess sidewalks for safety: The state of Minnesota recently addressed this problem in the Twin Cities when they addressed their pedestrian accident problem by evaluating all crosswalks for proper speed limits, visibility of the traffic signs, how many lanes pedestrians had to cross and how well the location was lit. This is a great precedent for Lewiston and Auburn to follow.
- Adding bump-outs: Bump-outs provide a sheltered place for pedestrians to wait for the light to change and bump-outs also make pedestrians more visible to motorists. Generally, drivers slow automatically when the lane narrows for the bump-out.
- Encourage law enforcement to monitor law-breaking drivers: At dusk, speeding drivers are particularly dangerous. Traffic officers need to be diligent and to give drivers citations when they break the law in pedestrian areas.
- Keep streets safe: Streets should be free of debris, traffic signals should be in working order, and periodic tests should be conducted to verify that posted speed limits are appropriate.
Driver and Pedestrian Errors Resulting in Accidents
A reporter for the Portland Press Herald analyzed each 2015 Maine pedestrian fatal accident in order to determine a cause, find a pattern and develop remedies and helpful tips for both drivers and pedestrians. She found that:
- Three pedestrians and two drivers were under the influence of alcohol.
- Eight of the pedestrians killed were crossing the street and a ninth was killed while crossing a parking lot. These pedestrians did not all cross at a crosswalk or where there was a signal.
- Only one driver was speeding.
- One pedestrian was killed when he darted across the road.
Drivers and pedestrians can both take steps to prevent accident injuries and fatalities.
Tips for Drivers
The most common driver errors that contributed to pedestrian accidents on Maine roads were:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
- Driving negligently or aggressively.
- Driving while talking, texting, putting on make-up, shaving, etc.
- Failing to signal a turn.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Do not cross between intersections. Always cross at a corner.
- Do not walk into the street without looking. More and more texting pedestrians assume cars will stop for them. Nice thought, but distraction on the pedestrian’s part can result in injuries or death.
- Avoid wearing dark clothing at dusk and at night because dark clothing may make a pedestrian difficult to see.
- Obey traffic signals.
Maine Department of Transportation Information
The Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) puts some of the onus on pedestrians to act for their own safety. It has developed a pamphlet to inform pedestrians about the pedestrian “rules-of-the-road.” It reminds pedestrians to always walk facing traffic when there are no sidewalks, to cross only at crosswalks and to avoid darting into the street from between two parked cars.
The DOT reminds drivers never to pass a car that is stopped for pedestrians. Drivers should always “exercise due care,” which means, for example, driving below the speed limit when traffic conditions require it. Honk the horn when necessary to give pedestrians a warning that they may be in trouble.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, or if someone you love was killed in a pedestrian accident, contact one of our personal injury lawyers at Fales & Fales, P.A.We offer a free consultation for personal injury cases.