National Teen Driver Safety Week

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  AUGUSTA – During National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 18-24, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is reminding teens to drive safely, with a focus on avoiding distracted driving. National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007 to focus attention on the number one killer of teens: motor vehicle crashes. Crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19-year-old) drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured. This year, Secretary Dunlap has partnered with the AT&T “It Can Wait” campaign, visiting Maine high schools to spread the word about the deadly consequences of texting while driving. He spoke with students at Windham High School last week and will be at Noble High School in North Berwick on Tuesday, Oct. 20, asking all the students to make the pledge to never text and drive. In his address to the Windham High School students, Secretary Dunlap reflected on the devastation of the injuries and deaths that result from distracted driving car crashes. “The hardest thing I have to do is convince people that this will happen to them,” he said. “These are not things we can hit reset on and start over. And what’s so frustrating is that this is the simplest thing in the world to prevent: Just don’t do it.” Surveys conducted by AT&T show that nearly half of all commuters admit to texting and driving, while 75 percent of teens say the behavior is common among their friends. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers and 424,000 people were injured, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics. Drivers under the age of 20 make up the largest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. In addition to speaking directly with Maine’s teens, Secretary Dunlap urges parents to consult the Parents’ Supervised Driving Program manual for tips on teaching their teen about safe driving, and to sign the Parent/Teen driver contract. AT&T “It Can Wait” Parent/Teen Driver Contract   Parents’ Supervised Driving Program Manual...

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The Essential Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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When the chill starts creeping in through the windows and doors, it’s time to get ready for the big freeze. We’ve put together a quick and easy checklist, so you can prepare your home for the cold with confidence.    Inside the Home Indoor preparations focus on two major components: efficiency and warmth. You want to keep as much heat inside the home as you can to use energy more efficiently, which means taking care of leaks and insulation problems. You also want to have the fireplace, heater, wood stove and ventilation system ready to go. Here’s a list to help you get it all done. Fill in cracks around window frames and door frames with caulk. Bob Vila, well-known home improvement guru and host of This Old House, says that this is one of the cheapest and most significant ways you can cut heating costs in winter. Check insulation in attics, garages and basements. If you have a bug or animal problem, you may need to tear out and replace old or chewed up insulation. Make sure any exposed pipes in the attic, basement and garage are properly insulated. Get a check-up for your heating and ventilation system to make sure it’s running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. This can save you a lot of money on utilities. Have a chimney sweep inspect the flue and clean the chimney before starting a fire. There may be bird nests or animals blocking the opening, or a highly flammable buildup of creosote. Either of these can start a chimney fire. Check for cracks and openings in your wood stove. Get a professional to replace compromised glass or crooked vent covers. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Install a carbon monoxide detector, if you have not done so already. Change the batteries on your existing detectors. The winter months are prime time for carbon monoxide accidents. Have a licensed technician inspect your fire sprinkler system, and ensure it is ready for cold weather. Outside the Home To prepare the exterior of the home, you need to focus on protecting it from the elements, especially if you live in a snowy climate. It’s also a good time to start prepping your yard for next spring. Clean out the gutters, spouts and drains around your home. Usually there is a thick accumulation of leaves after fall, and this can cause trouble when you need your roof to shed snow and water quickly. Fill in any cracks in your foundation or driveway with caulk or a patch, to keep moisture out. Inspect the roof for cracks, loose tiles, or other signs of weakness. Get all repairs finished now, before the snow or...

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