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Black Ice: Driving Tips, Safety Information and Accident Prevention

Car slipping on black ice

march808bIn this part of the world, only Maine gives winter the welcome and the worship it should have.

-Tom Allen

Maine winters are indeed beautiful.   But when winter arrives in Maine,  its beauty is tempered by hazardous winter driving conditions.  Snow and ice increase the likelihood of serious and sometimes fatal automobile accidents and make safe driving a real challenge.

As we welcome winter in our beautiful state of Maine,  the personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing want to review winter driving safety tips so we can keep our roadways safe for all motorists. (more…)

Halloween Parties On College Campuses Keep Police Busy

jack'o lanterns

Festivities Tied to  Increase in Impaired Driving and Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking Among Underaged and College Students

High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses

halloween_100328161_l-624x416Many see the tradition of Halloween themed parties at fraternities,  sororities,  apartments and dorms at our nation’s colleges and universities as a rite of passage for college students.  In reality, they pose a significant threat to students and the community as a whole.  College students often make poor decisions after their Halloween revels,  especially when alcohol is involved.  Drinking and driving after campus Halloween parties is a known and potentially deadly occurrence on college campuses across America.

Consequences of Abusive College Drinking:  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Lauri Sidelko, director of Drug and Alcohol Education Programs at The University of Maine points out that students may engage in risky behavior while in costume because the disguises and general party atmosphere of Halloween give some students “a license to do things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Sargent Scott Curtis of the University of Maine Police Department notes that Halloween  brings out even more partygoers than on a typical campus weekend,  and gives students “a theme and purpose to ramp up,  in particular, drinking.”   Unfortunately,  students often don’t even realize how much alcohol they have in their system because they mix their own drinks at parties.  When dispensed in large cups and not measured,  a student could be downing one drink,  or perhaps five,  depending on who was pouring the concoction.

According to the NCADD (National Council On Alcohol and Drug Dependence),

  • 600,000 college students are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol.
  • 700,000 students are assaulted by other students who have been drinking
  • 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape

Clearly,  drinking on college campuses is a  dangerous choice many young students are making,  often with dire consequences.

10 College Halloween Party Ideas:  Be Responsible and Have Fun 

Beverages served at campus Halloween parties also pose a unique problem.  Flavored hard alcohol,  especially when combined with other liquids which mask the taste of alcohol,  encourage students to drink even more than they normally would.  “They’re drinking straight alcohol with no idea what amount will kill you,” Curtis said.

Halloween Busy Time for University of Maine Police

Sidelko,  director of Drug and Alcohol Education Programs says, “Nationally, Halloween is the second-ranked drinking holiday of the year. When you look at our college campus, it translates to our first because students aren’t here for New Year’s.”

College campus education programs aimed at reducing binge drinking and preventing impaired driving are excellent ways to prevent Halloween tragedies and accidents.   Parents can also help mitigate the dangers of Halloween drinking and driving by educating their college-aged children about safe behavior,  the dangers of underage drinking,  and stressing that we are all responsible for keeping our communities safe by making sensible decisions when it comes to Halloween parties.  An increased police presence on Halloween aimed at stopping drunk drivers before they can cause serious accidents is also an extremely effective deterrent.

Halloween is a fun and exciting time on college campuses across the nation,  but it is certainly not an excuse to drink and drive.  The personal injury attorneys at Hardy,  Wolf and Downing want you to have a fantastic and safe Halloween – so keep things sensible while keeping safety a top priority.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk or otherwise impaired driver on what should be a festive,  happy holiday,  please allow the experienced Maine personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf an Downing to give your case the full attention it deserves.

Frightening Facts: Halloween Drinking and Driving

car headlights at night

Risky Ghouls and Goblins: Drunk Driving Poses Deadly Risks on Halloween

car headlights at nightHalloween isn’t just for little princesses, ghosts, and pirates anymore.  It has become the second highest grossing commercial holiday in the United States, second only to Christmas.  Adults and college students alike enjoy dressing up and attending costume parties and other Halloween themed get-togethers.  Unfortunately,  they often combine those festivities with alcohol,  then make the inexcusable choice to drink and drive and potentially to an unfortunate Halloween car accident. (more…)

Maine Drunk Driving – Dangers and Costs

auto accident drunk driver

Sobering Statistics on Drunk and Alcohol-Impaired Driving

  • Every day,  close to 30 people die in motor vehicle accidents that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. 31% of all fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involved alcohol-related automobile accidents.
  • Every 90 seconds,  someone is killed or seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash.
  • Annually,  alcohol-related crashes cost the US more than $51 billion dollars.
  • In Maine,  fatal automobile accidents that involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver account for 39% of all traffic-related deaths.


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

Maine 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 –

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…)