Dear Maine Motorist,One of life’s great rites of passage is the obtaining of one’s first driver’s license. Itrepresents a milestone in independence; indeed, with the invention of the automobile, theability to operate a motor vehicle represents the greatest level of freedom, flexibility, andmobility in human history.People drive for many reasons—to get to work, to explore, to visit family and friends, torun errands and recreate in the great outdoors. As exciting as having a valid license and adependable motor vehicle can be, great danger awaits the unwary motorist.As you review and learn the contents of this manual, it is important to keep in mind thateverything around you as a driver—from the painted lines in the road, the road signs, trafficcontrol lights and rumble strips to the safety belts, directional signals, airbags, and anti-lock brakes—has been developed and mandated for use because, in their absence,
While these devices greatly enhance the odds of emerging safely from a crash, themost critical component is the skill of the operator. That’s where you come in.During World War I, combat pilots were given only rudimentary training and typically hadvery little experience before engaging in combat operations. As a result, life expectancy incombat was a matter of minutes. The military has since installed the protocol of exhaustivetraining and skill development, and the results are extraordinary. Likewise, a lifetime of being a passenger in a motor vehicle does little to attune the necessary skills for being anexpert driver. Keep in mind the reasons for the rules of the road and the laws that governthem; in a contest between flesh and bone and the effects of the physics of a collision, theodds are
not on your side.
If a driver is careful and avoid unnecessary risks such as speeding, pays attention to theirdriving and limits distractions, one can enjoy many, many years of driving. It is a highsocial compliment if the passengers you drive feel comfortable and relaxed with you astheir driver.Responsible motorists avoid operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or engaging in other dangerous behaviors. Every year families try to cope andmove on from tragedies that could have been easily avoided. With more than 40,000Americans dying in crashes each year—and a large percentage due to alcohol—this is avery serious problem. Your attentiveness behind the wheel will help protect your friends,family, and neighbors. If you don’t believe it can happen to you, consider this: you have a
of being involved in a dangerous crash in your lifetime. Only your carefulattention and skill can accomplish what we all wish—that you enjoy many miles of safedriving in Maine, and wherever the road takes you.Sincerely,Matthew DunlapSecretary of State