With summer upon us and the number of cars, trucks, campers, and motorcycles on the road in Maine we want to remind people to “Look Twice, Save a Life.” The slogan used to promote motorcycle awareness and safety is aimed to reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities throughout the country. During the summer months, “Look Twice, Save a Life” is especially relevant in Maine. Unlike many states, Maine “motorcycle season” is relatively short and for some drivers, it takes a little more time to get re-accustomed to sharing the roadways of the Pine Tree State with bikers.
At Hardy Wolf & Downing, we take motorcycle awareness and safety seriously, as one of our own attorneys rides his motorcycle during the summer months. Attorney Lewis has been riding motorcycles for nearly 20 years and has ridden everything from sports bikes, adventure bikes, and cruisers. He currently is riding a Harley Davidson Street Glide after years on various Triumphs [see a photo of Attorney Lewis on his Harley above]. We have the experience and dedication necessary to help victims of motorcycle accidents receive the compensation they deserve as well as provide some basic safety precaution tips.
To say that motorcyclists face many unique road hazards may be an understatement—NHTSA found that they are 28 times more likely than other drivers to be in an accident. On top of that, motorcyclists are often unfairly characterized as being at fault in vehicle accidents when in fact they are much more vulnerable to being struck by a car than striking a car. This campaign is a reminder to be aware of your surroundings, to use extra caution at intersections, and check your blind spot twice during lane changes.
Here are some driving safety tips for your travels through Maine this summer:
Summer Driving in Maine
From 2013 to 2017, Maine averaged 32,713 vehicle crashes and 153 road fatalities annually, of that, approximately 570 motorcycle accidents averaging 19 fatalities occurred. Contrary to popular perceptions (and Department of Transportation statistics) summer, not winter is the most dangerous time of year to be driving on Maine roads. Though there are more total crashes during winter, over a third of all fatalities occur during the summer months. Several factors contribute to the rise in fatal accidents during the summer. Maine DOT would point to increased road congestion from vacation travelers along with an increase in road construction as the leading causes for the spike in deadly crashes. You can throw in distracted drivers, alcohol impairment, excessive speed, and more inexperienced teen drivers out of school and on the roadways, too, as contributing factors.
How to Safely Navigate Dangerous Roads
Maine car drivers should expect bikers to be on the road once the weather gets warm, adding one more element to be cautious of while driving. Dangerous roads or intersections are those that are or become heavily trafficked and busy during different times of the day or months of the year. Where Portland, Lewiston, and Augusta can experience daily traffic jams during rush hour throughout the year, traffic in small towns such as Rangeley or Greenville can swell to 5 or 6 times the congestion during the summer months.
As a driver, stay alert, give motorcyclists’ space and do not crowd them on highways, especially when traveling on familiar roads. Never share a lane with motorcycles and keep your following distances at five seconds or greater when driving behind one. Look twice before entering an intersection and always double check your blind spot and mirrors for motorcycles and other vehicles. Eliminate distracted driving habits like changing the radio station, eating while driving, texting and talking on the phone, or turning to face other occupants in the car.
Summer Road Construction in Maine
Summertime is “road construction season” in Maine. Uneven pavement and unyielding cars make motorcyclists particularly vulnerable when driving through construction zones. Whether traveling along I-95, Rt 2 or a county road, all motorists should be wary while driving in construction zones. The dangers of accidents are very real and often a result of speeding. In one study by the Centers for Disease Control, it was reported that work zones averaged 773 driving fatalities per year (2005 – 2014). Be extra cautious when you drive around construction zones and travel at the posted speed limit. Don’t forget to look out for pedestrians or workers.
Drivers today seem to be far more distracted when behind the wheel, often resulting in numerous collisions. “Look Twice, Save a Life,” means it’s important to keep focused on the road at all times. Distracted driving is more than texting and talking on the phone, conversing with people in the vehicle, reaching for a drink, or changing the music. Learn more about the dangers of distracted driving in one of our recent posts, What You Need to Know About Texting and Driving Law.
Large Animal Crashes
Let’s face it, when driving in Maine, one essential road sign that all motorists need to heed—cars, truckers, and motorcyclists alike—is moose and deer warning road signs. Crashes with large animals, especially moose and deer, are always a concern. Drivers should always be on alert for large animals while driving on Maine roads. Each year, Maine experiences about 600 moose crashes and 3,000 deer crashes.
Safety should always be the first priority when on the road. This summer in Maine, whether driving along the coast or through the mountains, “Look Twice, Save a Life,” while operating a motor vehicle. Learn to share the road with motorcyclists and other drivers, and practice being a good defensive driver. In doing so, you will safely navigate dangerous roads wherever you travel.