The Maine Department of Transportation is releasing a new Strategic Highway Safety Plan in response to an increasing number of traffic fatalities.
MDOT reports about 33,000 Maine car crashes a year with about 150 traffic deaths. The improving economy and low gas prices were both cited as factors in the increase. Still, motorists are urged to do their part.
“Crashes are not accidents,” said Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart.
Our injury lawyers in Bangor have blogged recently about the increased risks of winter driving in Maine. While winter weather can and does cause accidents, most often a collision occurs because weather exacerbated other unsafe driving habits — like speeding, distracted driving, or following too closely.
MDOT reports lane departure or running off the road are the state’s most frequent cause of fatal crashes. A full 30 percent of fatal crashes are caused by such mishaps, and winter weather increases those risks. The state plan calls for installing more guardrails, adding more rumble strips, and enhancing speed and distracted driving enforcement.
The state’s new highway safety plan reports 33,300 crashes in 2016, resulting in 160 deaths and 10,800 injuries, including significant increases in bicycle, pedestrian, and motorcycle deaths.
Lane departures cause more than 9,000 deaths a year on average. The next most common causes include crashes at intersections (8,931), crashes involving winter weather (5,936), crashes involving elderly drivers (5,630), crashes involving new drivers (5,347), speeding (4,425), and distracted driving (3,256).
Liability for Maine Traffic Accidents
Poor weather and roadway departures are circumstances that may complicate an accident claim. Speaking to an experienced personal injury law firm as soon as possible after a serious or fatal collision is the best thing you can do to protect the rights of you and your family. Carefully documenting the accident scene is best done in the immediate aftermath of a collision, especially if weather is being cited as a contributing factor.
Roadway departures may involve private landowners, property damage, and other complexities. Even in cases in which a motorist is found partially at fault for causing an accident, a claim may still be possible. Under Maine’s comparative negligence law, a claimant deemed partially at fault may still collect damages from a defendant, but an award may be reduced by the plaintiff’s fault. This holds true as long as a plaintiff is not found to be more than half responsible for causing an accident.
In cases in which multiple defendants are involved, each defendant may be jointly and severally liable, meaning they may be held responsible for the full amount of the verdict, regardless of proportioned fault.
In addition to the legal complexities, these types of collisions often involve rollovers or ejections, which typically result in very serious or fatal injuries.
As part of its strategic plan, the state will also focus on a less common cause of roadway departures — deer or moose in the road. MDOT reports that November, during breeding season, brings the highest risk of deer accidents. However, moose accidents do not peak until May and June. While collisions may occur at any time, deer and moose are most active at dawn and dusk. Signs warning of deer and moose crossing are placed in high-traffic areas and should be heeded by motorists.
If you are a victim of a car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
More Blog Entries:
Black Ice Blamed in Numerous Maine Car Accidents Recently, Dec. 14, 2017, Bangor Car Accident Attorney Blog