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Maine State Police to resume normal traffic enforcement practices after seeing increase in dangerous driving during pandemic

According to the Maine Violations Bureau, there were 61,436 tickets issued in Maine in 2019. A year later that number was just 42,621. That's a 30 percent drop.

MAINE, USA — In an effort to keep Maine drivers and roadways safe, the Maine State Police Department is partnering with the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety on targeted enforcement details.

The details will occur over the next several months to keep Maine drivers and roadways safe.

According to state police, minor infractions such as expired registrations and inspection stickers were curtailed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was designed to keep people safer by reducing interactions between troopers and drivers. However, state police say that is now ending.

"As we get ready now and move forward in 2021, we're returning to our more normal stance of targeted enforcement across the board," Maine State Police Colonel John Cote said during a press conference Tuesday.

State police said troopers are seeing "disturbing" statewide trends of excessive speed, speeding through construction zones, and distracted driving.

"Just since January 1st of 2021, 665 distracted driving crashes have occurred and April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month," Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart said. "So in addition to the increased patrol presence, you're likely to see and hear additional safety messages from the Bureau of Highway Safety and our partners, such as AAA of Northern New England."

Maine State Police Lt. Patrick Hood said state police will be utilizing their air wing for speed enforcement.

"The state police will be using their air wing to do that," Hood said. "So we'll be looking down from fifteen to two thousand feet above watching traffic, really when people would have no idea. And it's very effective for us."

Citizen complaints about this dangerous behavior are also increasing, according to state police.

"We really have been contacted on unprecedented levels by members of the public who have reached out to us expressing their concerns about changes in behavior that they've seen during their normal commute," Cote said. "They're sharing the aggressive driving, the high speeds, and expressing their concerns about that. So we really are going to be changing our stance, working in partnership with the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety to start trying to get a rein back on some of the dangerous driving that's been happening."

In February, Falmouth Police Chief John Kilbride told NEWS CENTER Maine traffic contact in Falmouth was down 50 percent in 2020 compared to the year before. And they're not the only department that has seen a big reduction. 

According to the Maine Violations Bureau, there were 61,436 tickets issued in Maine in 2019. A year later that number was just 42,621. That's a 30 percent drop.

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