According to WGME.com, the three pedestrians had just gotten off a bus stop and were crossing the street when a vehicle approached from a hill and struck all three. Witnesses at a nearby hotel opined the vehicle was traveling at least at the speed limit of 45 mph, if not faster. Two of those struck were a young couple who lived just across the street from where the crash happened. They were all three still in the road when first responders arrived. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene but later turned herself in to local authorities and confessed.
Pedestrian accidents are a serious problem in Maine and elsewhere in the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian fatalities increased by 9.5 percent from 2014 to 2015 (the most recent year for which initial counts are available). That amounted to 466 more deaths in 2015 than the year before, which brought the final tally – 5,376 pedestrian accident deaths – to the highest it’s been since 1996.
Specifically in Maine, the final numbers from 2014 show there were nine pedestrian deaths in 2014, which is seven percent of the total. That may not sound like an extremely high number, but you have to consider two things. It’s disproportionate to the number of people who regularly walk in or near traffic. It doesn’t account for the significant number of people severely injured in Maine pedestrian accidents.
Approximately one in five children under the age of 14 who die in traffic crashes are pedestrians.
Recently, in Waterville, Maine, a 12-year-old junior high school student was struck by a 16-year-old boy driving through a crosswalk where the girl was crossing. The junior high student was reportedly crossing to enter the middle school parking lot. She passed in front of two other vehicles, but the other teen reportedly did not see her as he approached. Although investigators did not initially ticket the boy, Title 29-A Subsection 20564 stipulates “any vehicle must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who has entered a marked crosswalk when a traffic control device is not in operation.”
The Maine Department of Transportation issues guidelines on crosswalk engineering to ensure placement, markings, and usage are done in a uniform way to protect pedestrian safety. If there is any indication the entity in charge of establishing or maintaining a crosswalk didn’t do so properly, and it resulted in an injury, that could be grounds for a claim for compensation from that entity, as well as the negligent driver. Those guidelines include provisions like:
- Crosswalks must be lighted for nighttime use;
- Crosswalks must be painted annually;
- Crosswalks should extend from one safe landing to another;
- Crosswalks should only be installed in areas in which the speed limit is 40 mph or less;
- Crosswalks need to have the appropriate signage; and
- Crosswalks in school zones should have crossing guards for times when school is starting and ending.
It was reported by the Bangor Daily News that one in every four people struck by a car in Maine is hit in a crosswalk. A bill was introduced in 2015 that would have required drivers to stop – not just yield – for people in a crosswalk or intending to cross. The Act to Improve Safety and Clarify Responsibilities of Pedestrians and Bicyclists would also have required those on roller blades, bicycles, and other non-motorized vehicles to yield to those in crosswalks.
The law was later passed, but amendments to it do not require drivers to actually stop at a crosswalk. However, the law does expand protections to pedestrians by indicating drivers must yield not only to pedestrians who are in crosswalks but also those who have “shown visible intent to enter the marked crosswalk.”
If you are the victim of a Bangor pedestrian accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Police: Maine woman confesses to hitting 3 pedestrians in NH, Feb. 21, 2017, Staff Report, WGME
More Blog Entries:
Weather-Related Maine Car Accident Kills Child and Father, Injures Sister, Mother, and Friend, Jan. 23, 2017, Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Blog