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This year, the number of pedestrians killed by drivers in Maine is nearly twice what it was last year and includes two women killed this past week while walking along Maine roads. It’s way past time for a serious conversation about designing roadways that accommodate everyone’s use of roads.
Deaths on American roads have increased by 10% over the past decade, while deaths in European Union countries have decreased. That’s because regulators in Europe insist that manufacturers design cars that are less lethal to a human body and roads in Europe are more likely to be designed to lessen the likelihood of accidents.
Human error becomes the fallback explanation for accidents, yet that ignores significant other factors such as weather, inadequate or obscured signage and road design.
Until our roads are designed to accommodate all users, it’s imperative that drivers of cars obey speed limits and adjust to changing weather conditions by slowing down. Adopt the mindset that there are walkers and cyclists everywhere you drive and watch for them! Imagine how you’d feel if you were responsible for that empty chair at a family’s holiday celebration.
And walkers and cyclists, do everything you can to protect yourself. Wear brightly colored clothing, use crosswalks, put lights on your bike, walk facing traffic and bike with traffic, use hand signals to indicate you’re turning your bike etc.
Diligence on everyone’s part can change this tragic trajectory of more deaths to pedestrians and cyclists with each passing year.
Mary Ann Larson