Staying Safe on Maine Highways: Maine DOT Crash Data
Maine DOT crash data, gathered since 2006, demonstrates that centerline rumble strips are a cost-effective way to save lives and prevent head-on collisions along Maine’s busy highways. Hardy, Wolf and Downing’s attorneys believe that is excellent news for Maine drivers.
Maine has commonly installed rumble strips on the sides of interstates. These rumble strips effectively alert drowsy or distracted drivers if they are drifting out of their lane and onto the shoulder.
But the relatively new investment in centerline rumble strips on Maine’s busiest highways is a concept that has effectively saved lives and reduced the number of head-on collisions and head-on collision injuries.
Centerline Rumble Strips and Shoulder Rumble Strips: A Noise Drivers Can’t Ignore
Rumble strips, as the name implies, are designed to alert drivers when they are drifting out of their lane by making a jarring, rumbling sound. When a driver’s tires hit grooved sections of pavement, the resulting noise and vibration let them know they are crossing into dangerous territory. It may also allow them the precious time needed to correct their course before a disastrous head-on collision occurs.
Flashing signs and other traditional efforts to keep Maine drivers alert (especially at night) are often less effective than rumble strips in preventing automobile accidents because drivers become accustomed to seeing them. It’s easier to ignore “stay alert” warnings or billboards that don’t make noise or otherwise irritate drivers.
Unfortunately, when warning signs become a familiar part of a driver’s landscape, they are rendered ineffective.
Rumble strips are effective crash deterrents because no matter how many times a sleepy or otherwise distracted motorist encounters them, the effect is always the same. A loud, jarring noise can’t be easily ignored. The noisy, unpleasant vibration that centerline rumble strips create is not something drivers typically become accustomed to. That’s part of what makes them such effective crash deterrents.
Proof in Numbers: Centerline Rumble Strips Deter Crashes and Reduce Fatalities
Since the installation of centerline rumble strips, the number of crashes along the Maine routes where they have been employed has decreased by 50 percent. Even more impressive is that since the 2006 installation of rumble strips, the number of fatalities has dropped to zero.
Currently, there are approximately 18 miles of centerline rumble strips in Maine (along U.S. Route 1 in Woolwich and on other roads in Dedham, Bangor, and Trenton).
The Portland Press Herald reported that in the six years prior to installing centerline rumble strips along portions of Maine’s busy highways (where vehicle speeds were at least 45 mph), there were 21 head-on collisions and eight fatalities.
In the six-year period after the centerline rumble strips were installed, there were only 10 head-on crashes with no fatalities. Based on that clear success record, Maine DOT has committed to installing more centerline rumble strips across the state.
Maine DOT: Centerline Rumble Strips Offer Relatively Low-Cost Solution That Saves Lives
At a cost of approximately $135,000 for every 20 miles of road, Maine DOT official Duane Brunell says, “It’s a relatively low-cost mitigation effort that has a potentially high return if it saves lives.” In addition, experts at the University of Maine report that for every $1 spent on adding centerline rumble strips to Maine highways, $100 in medical costs would be saved.
Maine drivers can count on centerline rumble strips to become more widespread in the years to come. Maine DOT plans to target roads where speeds are at least 45mph (busy interstates). Retrofits for Route 4 in Berwick and South Berwick and Route 111 between Biddeford and Alfred are already in the works, according to a Maine DOT official.
Read More: Rumble Strips in Southern Maine
Speed a Factor In Severity of Head On Collisions
On average, there are 800 head-on collisions in Maine each year, which result in approximately 40 deaths. On interstates where vehicle speeds are higher, the potential for tragic, deadly head-on collisions increases exponentially. Drivers on Maine’s wide open stretches of highway often drive fast, so it becomes even more important to keep those drivers in their lanes. Centerline line rumble strips do just that and are a proven, effective way to save lives.
Some Maine residents who live near stretches of road with centerline rumble strips have complained about the noise they produce. But oftentimes, centerline rumble strips are installed in such heavily traveled areas (which have a history of crashes) that the noise they produce isn’t even noticed.
The experienced, caring personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want Maine drivers to stay safe. We have seen the horrific results of many head-on automobile accidents. If centerline rumble strips can save lives or prevent any of these often fatal crashes, they keep Maine residents safer.
If you or your loved one has been involved in an automobile accident, head-on collision or other traffic accident (as the result of a distracted or otherwise impaired driver), contact our offices immediately. Negligent drivers cause accidents, and centerline rumble strips can’t prevent every collision. Our personal injury team will assess the specifics of your case, and get you the compensation you deserve if you have been the unfortunate victim of an automobile accident in Maine.