AUGUSTA — Maine public safety officials are going to launch another program to promote pedestrian safety following a deadly year on roads and highways.

The state recorded 154 traffic deaths in an unofficial tally for the year that ended Tuesday, officials said. Of those, there were 16 pedestrian deaths, compared with just six the previous year, said Lauren Stewart, director of the state Bureau of Highway Safety within the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Similar to 2018, after 21 pedestrian deaths were recorded the previous year, there will be grants in 2020 to law enforcement to step up enforcement of pedestrian laws, and there will be public education campaigns to promote pedestrian safety, Stewart said.

The Maine Department of Transportation also will hold meetings with local communities where there are high incidences of pedestrian fatalities to see what can be done to help, Stewart said.

The total number of traffic deaths compares to an all-time high of 276 in 1970 and an all-time low of 131 in 2014, Stewart said.

Looking ahead, the Bureau of Highway Safety hopes to have more information about distracted drivers in the new year, the first full year in which police have reported greater detail on crash reports. That should provide greater insight into how often distracted driving contributes to crashes in the state, she said.

Fire deaths and homicides were both close to historical averages in 2019, with 22 homicides and 18 fire deaths, said spokesman Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

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