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Courts and Crime

Maine Police Say They're Cracking Down On Drivers Using Cellphones

Distracted Driving
Charles Krupa
/
AP file
In this Dec. 14, 2011, file photo, a driver talks on a cell phone while driving through the Financial District of Boston.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state say the are stepping up efforts to curtail dangerous driving in Maine.

Maine State Police Lt. Patrick Hood, who’s assigned to the midcoast region, says officers would prefer that drivers voluntarily comply with the law by not using their cellphones when behind the wheel.

“It’s easier now to get the gentle message to say, ‘It’s time to put these things down,’ rather than having a law enforcement officer, whether it’s a Maine state trooper, somebody from the sheriff’s department or local police, stopping you and handing that ticket to you because you are choosing not to come into voluntary compliance,” he says. “We’re hoping that an increase presence of uniformed law enforcement with an increased number of traffic stops will encourage people to take a look at their behavior.”

Hood says the increased enforcement effort represents a return to standard operations before the pandemic. For the past year, he says, law enforcement were encouraged to relax enforcement of certain violations in order to limit public contact.

Hood says roadway fatalities in Maine increased from 2019 to 2020, despite a decline in the number of accidents. He says law enforcement believes that increase was the result of distracted driving and speeding.