Police & Fire

Last year Maine saw the fewest deaths on the road since 2014

By Christopher Burns, Bangor Daily News Staff

Last year, Maine saw the fewest deaths on the road since 2014.

Despite seeing fewer car crash deaths, the number of pedestrians killed by drivers remains stubbornly high.

In 2023, 134 people died as a result of car crashes on Maine roads, just slightly more than the 131 deaths seen in 2014, according to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

Those 2014 deaths were among the fewest seen since 1944, when 119 people died on Maine’s roads.

“Though this is a vast improvement over the prior several years, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety recognizes that there is still plenty of work to be done because one life lost is one too many,” Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart said Monday morning.

Last year, 94.5 percent of drivers in Maine were observed using seat belts during the day, the highest percentage observed on record. But that percentage fell dramatically to 77.5 percent at night, according to the highway bureau.

Among those who died in fatal crashes in 2023, 60 percent weren’t wearing seat belts.

Maine saw the biggest improvement in motorcycle deaths, with only 17 in all of last year despite the prevailing wet conditions. That’s down from 21 in 2021 and 29 in 2020. It was the fewest motorcycle deaths since 2014, when 10 people died riding motorcycles in Maine, according to the bureau.

It’s unclear at this time how many of these fatal crashes involved drugs or alcohol, because the bureau is awaiting toxicology reports. But between 2018 and 2022, 23 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol.

The bureau noted that pedestrian deaths was one area where Maine didn’t see an improvement last year. Pedestrian deaths have tended to swing between highs and lows year to year, but since 2021, Maine has averaged about 20 or more a year.

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