Proposed bill could lead to an increase in speed-related car accidents in Northern Maine

Speeding is a common cause of car accidents in Maine and throughout the country. Yet, state officials are proposing a bill to increase the speed limit on a stretch of highway in Northern Maine, reports the Bangor Daily News. Our car accident attorneys in Bangor and Portland hope the state considers this bill carefully before they pass it, considering that 38 percent of traffic fatalities in Maine for 2009 were caused by a speed-related crash.

A unanimous vote by a legislative committee is in favor of passing LD 1557, a bill that would permit the state’s commissioner to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on a 100-mile stretch of highway from Old Town to Houlton. The current speed limit for that stretch of Interstate 95 is set at 65 mph. The bill would allow the commissioner to use discretion on parts of the highway that should remain at 65 for safety reasons. The issue came up during his campaign when 10 percent of the public doors he knocked on asked the question “When are we going to be able to legally drive 75 on the highway?”

The fact is, motorists already take their chances on this solitary stretch of highway, often driving above the permitted speed limit. With very few cars and even fewer exits, motorists and state officials feel the risks of a car accident related to speed is minimal.

“The motorists on this section of I-95 are traveling at speeds at which they feel comfortable regardless of the posted speed limit,” Nina Fisher, the DOT’s legislative liaison, said in testimony to the committee. “Past data has proven that a driver’s level of comfort does not increase as a function of posted speed limit but as a function of the drivability of the road.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 61 of the 159 traffic fatalities in 2009 were in speed-related crashes. During 2005-2009, speed was a factor in a high percentage of traffic fatalities in Maine. The highest percentage reported during that period was in 2005 when speed played a role in 51 percent of Maine traffic fatalities for that year.

The next step for LD 1557 is presentation to the House and Senate for deliberation.
Speed tips to consider on Maine roadways this summer:

-Maintain the legal speed limit on unfamiliar or rural roads. Curves in the roadway or unknown obstacles like groundhogs or moose can appear from nowhere and make it difficult to avoid at high travel speeds.

-Pass slower moving vehicles on the left-hand side. Passing on the right could cause an accident with merging vehicles that may not see your vehicle.

-Slow down on exit ramps or sharp corners to avoid a rollover accident or collision with another vehicle.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Bangor, Portland or the surrounding areas, contact Peter Thompson & Associates for legal representation or answers to all of your questions. Free consultations and advice can be obtained by calling 1-800-804-2004 to speak to an attorney today.

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