The number of people who died on Maine’s highways in 2014 was the lowest in 70 years, according preliminary statistics released by state police.

Last year, 128 people died in highway crashes – the lowest number since 1944, state police spokesman Stephen McCausland said Thursday.

“It’s a historic year for highway fatalities in Maine, and we’ll take it,” McCausland said.

Several factors contributed to the relatively low number of deaths, including enforcement and public service announcements by the Maine Department of Transportation, such as the “Click it or ticket” campaign, said McCausland, who also noted that automobile manufacturers are making safer vehicles.

“There’s no one factor that we can put our finger on,” he said. “We think it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

Although speed limits on portions of Interstate 295 and the Maine Turnpike were raised from 65 mph to 70 mph in 2014, McCausland said it was “a non-factor” when it came to road safety.

Maine’s crash records go back to 1935. From 2005 to 2013, an average of 162 people a year died in state highway crashes, according to data from the state Bureau of Highway Safety.

Before 2014, the two safest years were in 2011 and 1959, when 136 people died in each year, McCausland said.

In 2013, 144 people died in highway crashes and 164 people died in highway crashes in 2012.

The state’s crash data will not be finalized until the end of January. McCausland said the final tally could change if someone who was involved in an accident in December of 2014 dies from his injuries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @randybillings

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