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Winter Driving in Maine – Leave Sooner, Drive Slower, Live Longer

Car slipping on black ice

winter driving tipsMaine winters are known the world over for their breathtaking beauty.  They bring to mind images of pristine winter woods,  sparkling snow and cozy nights snuggled by the fire.

But as the weather gets colder and the nights longer,  Maine residents must also remember the treacherous side of Old Man Winter,  and prepare themselves for winter driving on Maine’s ice and snow covered roads and highways.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys know that winter driving in Maine can be extremely risky.   We want our residents to stay safe and avoid car accidents,  so we’ve prepared some information and tips to help you stay safe this winter.

Maine Prepares for Winter – Maine.gov

The U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show that nearly seventy percent of automobile accidents resulting in death are ice-or-snow related. Maine drivers are spending more time on the road because of increased commuting times,  and communities are changing the ways they determine snow plowing routes in an effort to cut costs.  A high proportion of inexperienced teenaged drivers adds to an already dangerous winter driving equation. making Maine winter roads an even greater hazard when winter storms hit.

Maine Winter Roads Getting More Dangerous

Some of these tragic winter related automobile accidents may be avoided with careful planning and an eye towards driver safety.  So, our experienced Maine car accident attorneys have compiled the following winter driving tips in an effort to keep our fellow drivers safer.

  • Maine storms can strike with little or no warning.  Keep your vehicle winterized at all times so that you are always prepared. Keep your gas tank filled,  check your tires,  fluids, wiper blades, antifreeze, and battery often.
  • If you don’t have to leave the house,  stay home!  Staying off the roads is your best bet for avoiding a car accident when the roads are nasty.
  • Stock your care with extra winter supplies (warm clothing, shovel, sand, food, charged cell phone, blanket, etc.)
  • Tips for Winterizing Your Car – Weather Channel
  • Slow Down!  Leave plenty of extra room between cars (at least three times more space than you would in normal driving conditions.)
  • If you have a four wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle,  don’t assume you are invincible or that your vehicle can handle all conditions.  Drive slowly and carefully!
  • Turn your lights on to increase your visibility.
  • Keep your lights and windshield wipers clean,  and make sure your blades are in good condition.  Keep de-icer in your car,  and always have an extra windshield scraper.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.  If you have an anti-lock brake system,  press the pedal down firmly and hold it.  If you don’t have an anti-lock brake system,  pump the pedal gently as you brake.
  • Don’t pass snow plows or sanding trucks.  They have limited visibility,  and road conditions are worse in front of them.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill.  Get gentle, controlled inertia on a flat surface before you take on the hill so that you can try to make it to the top by rolling.
  • Don’t try to power up hills,  as this will cause your wheels to spin.  Try to use inertia gained on a flat surface to get you to the top of the hill.
  • Stay alert,  don’t use cruise control,  and DON’T TALK OR TEXT ON YOUR CELL PHONE while driving on winter roads!
  • Don’t pull out suddenly in front of another vehicle.  When in doubt,  wait and take it slow.
  • Keep your gas tank full and use the bathroom before you leave for your destination.
  • If you do find yourself in a skid, steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. As you recover,  your wheels may start sliding the other way.  If this happens,  ease the steering wheel toward that side of the vehicle/skid. You may have to steer left and right repeatedly (gently!) several times to get your vehicle completely under control. If your vehicle starts to skid sideways,  shift into neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.  Avoid sudden,  jerky movements.  As your vehicle slows, you will regain control.  Then steer in the direction you want to go,  put the transmission in “drive” and accelerate gently.

Our Maine personal injury attorneys hope you will follow these driving safety tips and have a healthy, safe Maine winter driving season.  We live in a beautiful state,  and with a little careful planning,  you’ll be here to enjoy it, accident-free!

Maine High Schoolers Witness the Justice System In Action

High school kids and drinking problem

beer-drinking-pumpkinStudents at Cape Elizabeth High had a unique learning opportunity when their high school was turned into a real, working courtroom.

Since 2006, the Maine Supreme Court has turned 25 high school auditoriums into real, working courtrooms, where high school students listen as Maine lawyers give appellate arguments on real cases. (more…)

Statistics On Elderly Maine Drivers: Staying Safe, Seeking New Solutions

Patrol officer stands writing ticket

Maine has an unusually high proportion of older drivers,  and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades.

About 20 percent of Maine’s licensed drivers are 65 and older. 22 percent of the fatal crashes that took place in Maine in 2010 involved drivers who were 65 years and older. Maine Department of Transportation data shows that drivers over 65 experience more crashes per mile driven, than any age group except 16 year old drivers. (more…)

New Technology Sheds Light on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

traumatic brain injury lawyer Maine

High Definition Fiber Tracking

personal injury - brain injury 1Patients with mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often face an uphill battle when trying to obtain a proper diagnosis in the aftermath of their injury.  The traumatic brain injury lawyers at Hardy,  Wolf and Downing recognize this unfortunate pattern of poor diagnosis after a mild TBI.  Despite the fact that a patient with a  history of pain,  loss of function,  depression,  headaches,  along with a host of other symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injury,  the medical and legal community is often slow to validate the experiences of patients suffering from mild TBIs.   Fortunately,  new technology on the horizon seems poised to change that for the better for mild TBI victims and Maine personal injury victims. (more…)

Driving Blind: Distracted Driving Accidents & Underreported Crash Data

distracted driving accidents causing car crash

images-2You’re sitting at a stop light when you notice that the driver of the car next to you is wearing a blindfold.  Before you can react,  the light turns green.  To your absolute horror,  the unseeing blockhead takes off like a bat out of hell.  For a heart-pounding 4.6 seconds,  he drives the length of a football field at 55 mph, all while driving blind.

Against all odds,  he manages to stay in his own lane and no one is injured.  As his vehicle disappears from view, you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why he’d take such an insane risk,  not just with his own life,  but with the lives of every other person traveling on the road, as well.

If the above scenario sounds like something out of an ill-conceived reality show,  think again.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that sending or receiving a text while driving takes the driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.  This means that every time a driver checks email or sends a quick “be home soon” text,  that driver is effectively driving blind,  and the above example comes into sickeningly familiar focus.

Maine Distracted Driving Facts

Distracted driving accidents are the dangerous reality our Maine personal injury attorneys have seen in far too many personal injury cases.  Texting in cars and trucks causes over 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries per year, according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),   driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. While public safety campaigns combined with tougher laws have cut down on drunk driving deaths,  deaths due to distracted driving accidents are on the rise.

In our wired,  Smartphone world,  91% of American adults own cell phones and nearly 50% admit to sending texts while driving.  Ironically,  98% of these same adults surveyed fully admit that texting while driving is an extremely dangerous practice.  But they do it anyway.

Lawmakers have made concerted efforts to put an end to distracted driving.  Distracted driving,  including driving while texting,  is illegal in Maine and carries with it a minimum fine of $100 and 2 points on a driver’s record.  But it has persisted despite these new laws designed to eliminate the practice,  in part because people mistakenly believe “one text won’t hurt”.

But each and every text,  email, and distraction DOES hurt.  Just ask the families of loved ones lost in tragic accidents that could have been avoided had the driver been paying attention to the road instead of their cell phones.

Let Us Investigate – Contact UsToday!

Our Maine personal injury attorneys understand that in reality,  crash deaths caused by distracted drivers are much higher than what the currently available statistics show.  The National Safety Council concluded that “crash deaths in cases where drivers were on the phone are seriously underreported. The underreporting makes the problem of distracted driving appear less significant than it actually is,  and impedes efforts to win passage of tougher laws.”  One database showed that in more than 32,000 traffic deaths overall in 2011, only 385 were listed as involving phones.

Clearly,  distracted driving and driving while texting is a cold,  hard reality that puts Maine drivers at tremendous risk for personal injury and traumatic accidents.

If you are involved in an automobile accident that you suspect was caused by a distracted driver,  or a driver who was texting,  please call the Maine personal injury attorneys at Hardy,  Wolf and Downing.  A thorough investigation into the particulars of an automobile accident may reveal that a driver was texting or otherwise distracted,  even if the police reports indicate otherwise.  Underreported cases of distracted driving should not let those responsible for hurting others off the hook.



Resources:

Cell Phone Crash Data Underreported 
Dangers of Distracted Driving – CDC
CNN Survey-Adults Text More Than Teens While Driving