Motor vehicle-related fatalities were down in Maine in 2021 compared to recent years, according to the state’s Bureau of Highway Safety.

As of Wednesday, 149 people have lost their lives due to motor vehicle crashes this year in Maine compared to 164 deaths in 2020 and 157 in 2019.

“It is hard to pinpoint exactly why some years are higher or lower than others, but this year we increased our public outreach through paid media, social media, and digital media,” said Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart.

“Additionally, fewer people were observed driving distracted while using hand-held devices, and 91.8% of people were observed wearing a seat belt. These factors combined may have led to fewer deaths,” Stewart added.

The Bureau is reminding motorists to always drive safely and to drive sober this New Year’s Eve.

As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s impaired driving campaign, state and municipal police, and sheriff departments will be stepping up patrols for New Year’s Eve across Maine to help ensure the roads are safe for all travelers. As always, there is a zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving.

Safe driving begins with these responsible choices:

  • Plan ahead and depart for your New Year's celebration as early as you can.
  • Drive the speed limit even if you're behind schedule and want to reach your New Year's celebration right away.
  • Remember that it is NEVER okay to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Designate a sober driver, plan to stay where you are, or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
  • Use your defensive driving skills and anticipate potential driving challenges such as weather and road conditions, large animals, and especially be on the lookout for pedestrians.
  • Watch out for other impaired drivers. If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 9-1-1- or contact your local police department right away.

Data from the Maine Department of Transportation shows that in addition to highway fatalities more than 10,000 people are injured each year in automobile crashes in Maine.

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