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The 100 Deadliest Days: A Call for Safe Driving in Maine

Memorial Day to Labor Day is Maine's most dangerous time on the roads.

ELIOT, Maine — Memorial Day marks what public safety officials call the '100 Deadliest Days' on Maine's roads. 

This period, running from Memorial Day through Labor Day, is known for its increased risks and higher incidents of car accidents. 

According to AAA, approximately one-third of car crash deaths occur during this time. 

The state of Maine reported 59 deaths last year, and this year, in less than two weeks of this stretch, six people have already lost their lives in car crashes. 

Communities all across the state are taking proactive measures to educate young drivers on how to have a safe summer.

The town of Elliot organized an event aimed at demonstrating the dangers of distracted driving to young drivers. 

During the event, a distracted driving demonstration took place, featuring glasses that turned black intermittently, representing a person looking at their phone for four seconds. 

The collaboration between AAA and the Elliot Police Department seeks to encourage safe driving during this perilous time when our roads become deadlier.

Tom Baran, a traffic education specialist with AAA, revealed that there is a significant increase in teenage fatalities during the 100 Deadliest Days. 

“30% of fatal crashes involving teens happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day," Baran said.

Baran emphasized that seconds behind the wheel can be life-changing, with distractions ranging from phone usage to speeding and even the presence of passengers in the car. 

"The more passengers in the vehicle, that is a great correlation to being greater distracted and having a crash happen due to that distraction," he added.

Brian Delaney, a patrolling officer with the Elliot Police, takes a different approach when dealing with teenage drivers.

“It's not uncommon for me to stop a child coming from home from school going 20 miles over the speed limit. Rather than giving a ticket to that person, if it's their first offense, I give them a warning and tell them to have their parents call me by the end of my shift," he said. "This will educate not only the child but also the parents”

Officials stressed that parents play a crucial role in setting good examples behind the wheel. If parents engage in distracted driving, it sends a message to their teenage children that such behavior is acceptable.

“If a parent is texting while they're driving what does that give the teenager? That gives them the green light, my parents do it, I can do it," Baran said.

Jessica Adams, a mother of three from Elliot, expressed her concerns about her children hitting the road. 

"That's the scary thing about driving, it's not only them being distracted but other drivers that's the hard part, you can never predict what others will be doing," she added.

Recognizing the severity of the issue, the Maine Department of Public Safety has allocated one million dollars in grant funds to law enforcement agencies for overtime patrols during the 100 Deadliest Days. 

This statewide effort aims to tackle the common issues of high speeds, distracted driving, and failure to wear seatbelts.

Cpl. Robert Burke, of Patrols Troop I said, “Down here in Portland, they are dealing with the same things up in Bangor or north of that. It's a statewide issue, people are driving at high speeds, distracted, not wearing their seatbelts, all these factors contribute to these 100 days."

Over the past five years, the number of deaths during the 100 deadliest days has fluctuated. In 2021, the lowest-recorded year, there were 46 deaths, while in 2019, the highest-recorded year, there were 66 deaths. 

These numbers are alarmingly high for a four-month period, emphasizing the need for increased road safety measures. 

To aid in monitoring teenage driving habits and speed limits, various apps are available for concerned parents.


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