PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The Maine DOT reports that 18 pedestrians have been killed by cars so far this year, and two more incidents are still under investigation.
That puts the state on track to have one of its worst years yet for fatal pedestrian accidents.
The worst year in Maine's recorded history was 1994, with 22 deaths.
Officials say this problem is more complex than one may think, and that there’s no simple fix.
“We need to start taking this more seriously,” said Frank Gallagher, the spokesperson for the Bicycle of Maine Coalition.
Both Gallagher and Ted Talbot from the Maine DOT point to distracted driving as one of the key issues. “Just look around next time you're out and about,” explained Gallagher. “The number of people that you see looking down, on mostly, almost certainly, a cellphone, is staggering.”
Distracted driving may be one cause - but officials say the challenge in identifying a common thread with these accidents is making it hard to find viable solutions. “What is a southern Maine problem may well not be a central or northern Maine problem,” Talbot explained. “So identifying a common thread has become very challenging.”
Talbot says Maine DOT is working with town officials to find a concrete solution, but in the meantime - he asks for the public to be more alert.
“It's disheartening, and we continue to look at how we can try to make a dent in these numbers,” he said. “We need everyone's participation, but both motorists and pedestrians, as well as the professionals.”
Officials say they're particularly worried about the last few weeks of the year because they tend to be the worst.
That's because of black ice, earlier sunsets, and busy crowds running errands.
They encourage both drivers and walkers to be extra cautious.