Improper Passing Causes Deadliest Maine Traffic Accident in Three Years

Four people have died after a head-on collision on Route 4 in Berwick. It’s the deadliest Maine car accident in more than three years.

Three died at the scene, and another died at the hospital. Four others were hospitalized with serious injuries. It was one of four deadly accidents on Maine roads last weekend.Legal News Gavel

The Boston Globe reported that a 2014 Ford Explorer was struck head-on by a 1994 Honda Civic, after the Honda driver lost control while trying to make an improper pass. The Honda’s driver and two passengers were killed, including a seven-year-old North Berwick boy. A 73-year-old Wells woman was also killed. She had been a passenger in the Ford.

Our Bangor car accident lawyers have written recently about the increased risks of traffic collisions as the summer travel season gets underway. That stretch of Route 4, like many two-lane roads in Maine, has seen a number of serious and fatal traffic crashes in recent years. Improper passing is a primary cause.

Maine Statute Title 29-A §2070 governs passing another vehicle. It outlines the requirements, including visibility. Passing is prohibited within 100 feet of an intersection, hill crest, curve, bridge, or tunnel. The law also prohibits the vehicle being passed from speeding up until the pass is complete and requires the passer to leave enough distance before merging back into the travel lane. Maine’s law also requires motorists to leave a three-foot buffer zone when passing bicyclists, which has become a standard being pushed nationwide by the League of American Bicyclists.

We have all been frustrated by slower traffic. However, letting your frustration spill over behind the wheel by making a dangerous pass can have deadly consequences when a head-on collision results. Other common causes of head-on collisions include driving while intoxicated, drowsy driving, and wrong-way driving. These types of collisions may also involve farm machinery, tractor-trailers, or other commercial operators.

Head-on collisions are the deadliest type of traffic crash. While less than 2 percent of all traffic crashes are head-on collisions, they account for more than 10 percent of all traffic fatalities. Those crashes that occur at speeds greater than 45 mph are most likely to be fatal. Maine has already reported numerous fatal head-on crashes this year, including crashes in Fort Kent, Winthrop, Palmyra, Canaan, and Kennebunk.

In cases like this, an at-fault driver often lacks enough insurance to cover injuries and losses suffered by multiple victims.  Maine’s car insurance law requires drivers to carry minimum insurance of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident for bodily injury. Such minimum coverage, even though it is among the highest in the nation, is nowhere near enough when multiple victims are injured or killed. Fortunately, Maine is among the states that also require motorists to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in equal amounts ($50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident). In this case, it is likely the UM/UIM policies of the victims will be a substantial source of recovery.

Last weekend’s crash was the deadliest traffic collision in Maine since four people died in a March 2015 accident in Aroostook County.

If you are a victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Four People dead, 4 injured in Berwick head-on collision, June 9, 2018, Central Maine

More Blog Entries:

Memorial Day Travel Signals Start of Summer Road Risks in Maine , May 23, 2018, Peter Thompson & Associates

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