More pedestrians have been killed by motor vehicles this year than in any in at least a decade, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.

To date, 16 people in Maine have died in accidents involving motor vehicles, state figures show. There were 13 pedestrian fatalities each in 2008 and 2009, the second-highest totals during that time period. Data from before 2005 was unavailable Thursday, the department said.

At least two of the fatalities occurred within the past month. An 83-year-old volunteer firefighter was killed Nov. 23 while crossing the road to go to his mailbox in Pittston. On Nov. 13, a 31-year-old Norridgewock man was killed while walking on Ferry Street, U.S. Route 201A, in Solon.

“We don’t have any specific reason yet about why these are happening,” said Lt. Bruce Scott of the Maine State Police Traffic and Safety Division.

Police and others say the relatively nice weather this fall could be part of the reason. But poor visibility is the most common cause of pedestrian accidents, according to Scott.

“There are some theories out there as to why that might be happening, but most of it seems to be weather-related,” Scott said.

Brian Allenby, communications director at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said that pedestrian accidents tend to be reported more often in fall and winter, when days are shorter and people are out walking past sunset. A majority of pedestrian fatalities are reported between 4 and 7 p.m., he said.

The simplest solution to such accidents is for pedestrians to make sure drivers can see them, he said.

“The unfortunate reality of many of the fatalities we do see is that the folks are wearing dark clothing, nothing reflective, no lights and are crossing not in a marked crosswalk or an area where a motorist might expect somebody to be crossing,” Allenby said. “The single biggest thing we recommend for pedestrians this time of year is to make sure you’re visible.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at

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