By The BDN Editorial Board
The world is a large place, and there is only so much individuals can do to control the events happening around us. It is easy to feel powerless in a big world with big problems.
However, a string of recent accidents, crashes, fires and other events closer to home have been sometimes tragic reminders that seemingly small, everyday decisions can also have a huge impact.
We would love to stop having to emphasize the seemingly fundamental stuff, like why people should drive carefully, wear life jackets and seat belts, practice fire safety, etc. Trust us, if you’re tired of us sounding like a bunch of nagging hall monitors, we’re tired of it too. But these recent events show that a message of general caution is still needed.
Yet another pedestrian has died after being struck by a vehicle in Maine. A 57-year-old from Augusta, John Boivin, was struck crossing the street last Thursday. He was critically injured and eventually transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he died Monday, according to the Kennebec Journal.
“We are saddened to learn of another pedestrian death in our state,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Executive Director Jean Sideris said in a statement. “We all need to be on the lookout for vulnerable users when driving.”
The 20 pedestrian deaths in Maine last year tied 2021 with 2017 for the deadliest year on record in that category. And 2022 has gotten off to an equally alarming start. Boivin is at least the fourth pedestrian death already this year. Several other people have been struck and injured. A Maine State Trooper was hurt Feb. 16 on the Piscataqua River Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire when his cruiser, parked in the left lane of a construction zone with emergency lights on, was struck from behind by a truck.
A common element of these tragic incidents, like this most recent one in Augusta, is that charges aren’t expected or never materialize for the driver involved. Accidents happen. Not everything is a crime. But caution should always rule the road.
State and local policymakers should also take steps to make our transportation safer and more inclusive for pedestrians and cyclists, but infrastructure investments and shifts take time. More immediately, drivers and pedestrians need to be cautious and alert. It can literally save lives.
The roads aren’t the only places needing greater caution. Closer to home, 2021 set another unfortunate record with more fire deaths in Maine than any other year in recent memory. There were 27 fire deaths last year, including three people killed in a December blaze at a vacant building in Bangor that was the state’s deadliest fire since 2016.
Maine State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas emphasized to WABI in early January the importance of regularly testing smoke detectors and paying attention to potential fire hazards. He told the TV station that the most common causes of Maine fires are cooking, heating and smoking.
Along with fire, ice is also proving dangerous. Several Mainers recently experienced the cold, not-so-hard truth about variable ice conditions. Thankfully, the three people who went through the ice on Sebago Lake in recent days made it back to dry land safely.
“Don’t just assume because you’re looking out and it looks safe that it is,” game warden Neil Wykes told News Center Maine. He was involved in one of the recent Sebago rescues — inspiring work by the rescuers, but ideally such aid wouldn’t be necessary in the first place.
There are a lot of big problems out there. Let’s all do what we can to make some of them a little bit smaller by being careful.