Dear Maine Residents,

Once again, we have reached that special time of year. No, I’m not talking about yule logs, caroling, and spreading holiday cheer. I wish that’s what this letter was about, but sadly, that’s not the case. Mainers, it’s time to discuss this state’s egregious driving habits when the snow and ice start to fall.

It never ceases to amaze me how the collective brain of Maine’s driving community seems to completely forget how to drive in inclement weather. It’s like we have all be living in Sub-Saharan Africa and never experienced the white stuff before.

According to the state of Maine, there were a combined 6,581 accidents in January and December of 2020. That’s nearly 23% of all accidents for the entire year. Sadly, many of those were fatal. While it’s understandable that inclement weather months will see an increase in accidents, it’s still an incredibly staggering number.

Accidents will happen, I understand this. However, so many can be avoided, especially when we live in a climate where the majority of us should be experts by now in bad weather. Half the year is a disaster area in this state, so why do we become complete beginners in the early months of the winter? Something needs to change.

So, let's throw you some tips to keep yourself as safe as possible for those early days of wintery weather.

1. SLOW DOWN - Hey, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t like to speed. I mean, I’m no fighter pilot, but feeling the need for speed is a bit of human nature for some. However, also having a brain is extremely important. When the weather turns, simply slow down. Test the road. Make sure you are in a position to stop safely if need be. Wherever you are going will be there.

2. Leave Earlier – This goes hand-in-hand with slowing down. If inclement weather is in the forecast, simply leave earlier. This will allow you to be much safer on the roads, while still getting to your destination on-time.

3. Pay Attention – I understand this is just simple common sense, but it bears repeating. Black ice, a wintery mix, and snow following sleet are just some of the hazards to be aware of. It can be difficult to discern what conditions a road might be in, so keep your concentration locked in to ensure a safe drive.

4. Don’t Overreact – You can prepare yourself as much as possible, but there will always be risk. If the vehicle starts to slide, try and stay calm. The last thing you want to do is over-correct. We will all experience some slips and slides. It’s important to stay as calm as possible.

5. Be Cool to Plows – Seriously, let these guys and gals do their job. Move your cars, don’t tailgate, be courteous. These folks are superheroes in the winter. We all need to be more respectful of that.

It’s important as a collective to try and follow these steps and others. Driving is dangerous enough without the weather and poor driving habits. It’s not rocket science, Mainers. It’s simple safety. Let’s make this holiday season safer than it’s ever been. Let’s stay aware of those roads, folks. Let’s all get home…safely.

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