Safe Winter Driving in Maine

It's that time of year again. Temperatures are dropping, and before we know it, snow will be falling. While blankets of snow draping our towns and cities are nice to look at, they do not make for a winter wonderland on the roads. Cold weather conditions create many hazards and pose serious threats to safe driving.

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we see firsthand the effects of dangerous winter driving. Many hazardous driving conditions cannot be avoided, but being aware of important winter driving tips will help to lessen your chances of having an accident. The following guidelines will help Mainers navigate the upcoming frosty season:

Stay home if you can: Avoid excessive and unnecessary driving during storms. If you must travel, allow time for maintenance trucks to plow, salt and sand the roads.

Prep your vehicle: Prior to taking your car out on winter roads, make sure that it is equipped with the proper snow tires. Test the brakes, battery, exhaust system and defrosters. Check fluid levels, add antifreeze and switch to winter-weight oil.

Pack emergency equipment: Stock your car with a winter driving survival kit that includes: a flashlight, a shovel, a snow scraper/brush, sand or kitty litter for if you get stuck, and booster cables.

Reduce your speed: Extra time and distance is required in order to stop on snow or ice without skidding. Drive below posted speed limits, especially at intersections, off ramps, bridges and shady areas where black ice can form.

Never tailgate: Always keep at least three times more distance than usual between you and the car in front of you. Test your brakes often- brake slowly and never slam on the brakes.

Know your car’s limits: Do not assume that your car can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive cars and trucks can encounter trouble on icy roads.

Use the correct gears: Avoid using cruise control on slippery roads and use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills and unplowed roads.

Control your driving: Avoid any sudden actions while steering, braking or accelerating in order to stay on course.

Don’t panic if you skid: If you find yourself skidding on slick roadways, try to remain calm and do not brake. Instead, take your foot off the gas pedal and turn your car in the direction that you want to go. Use gentle, steady motions when turning the steering wheel.

Stop spinning the wheels if you get stuck: If you are stuck in snow, spinning the wheels will only make you dig deeper. Instead, turn your wheel side-to-side to clear snow out of the way and then lightly press on the accelerator. If necessary, shovel away snow and pour kitty litter around the wheels to help with traction.

Avoid distractions: Don’t talk on the phone while you are driving. Keep a charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies, but refrain from doing anything that keeps you from fully focusing on your driving and that of the vehicles around you.

With only one big winter storm under our belts thus far, it is inevitable that we Mainers have many more to come this season. By following the above guidelines, you will be better prepared to make it from point A to point B safe and sound during flurries, wintry mixes, blizzards and Nor’Easters.

Travel safely and always remember:

When driving in ice or snow, Joe says “please go slow.”

Portland Bans E-Cigarettes

Effective in less than a month's time, our city of Portland will have a ban on e-cigarettes in public places. The council voted 7-1 in favor of banning these smoking devices in all locations where regular tobacco products are also prohibited. 

E-cigarettes, popular alternatives for those who are trying to quite traditional smoking, deliver nicotine and vapor electronically. 

Portland is the 275th city or town in the country to ban these tools. 

Volkswagen Recalling Millions of Diesel Vehicles

Volkswagen is in the preliminary stages of planning a massive recall of diesel cars affected by the recent scandal, in which the company admitted installing software in some diesel cars that allowed them to pass United States emission standards. The software was designed to make the cars appear that they were within the legal limit for emission standards, when in fact they were not. Volkswagen has admitted that the software was installed in approximately 11 million vehicles, but says that the software was not activated in all of the vehicles. The actual number of vehicles that will be subject to the recall has not yet been determined. The refitting of the affected cars will involve changing of the software that gives a false reading of the engine emissions.

Volkswagen is currently in the initial planning stages for the recall. Any and all changes to the software must be approved by the appropriate State and Federal regulatory agencies before the recall can be implemented.

More information will be available on a website to be established by Volkswagen. The company hopes to have additional information available to customers within the next month.

Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians & Texting While Walking

It is a common sight they we now are all accustomed to seeing - people strolling along and navigating city streets while using their cell phones. According to recent data from the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, there has been a significant increase in injuries suffered by pedestrians who are distracted by talking or texting on their cell phones. As more and more people use their mobile devices while walking, and even crossing streets, the number of emergency room visits by 'distracted walkers' has grown. This trend is particularly worrisome as more and more children and teenagers own mobile devices, and are also using them in this dangerous manner.

To reduce the dangers of 'distracted walking,' the National Safety Council recommends the following precautions:

-  Do not walk, talk and text

- If you have to talk or text, move out of the way of other pedestrians, to the side of the walkway

- Never cross or walk in the street while using an electronic device

- Do not walk with headphones in your ears

- Be aware of your surroundings

For more information this issue and other safety related news, please visit

Joe Bornstein's Community Connections

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, it’s our pleasure and privilege to be able to give back to the communities in which we live and serve.

We see the efforts of numerous charities and organizations that are dedicated to improving the quality of life in Maine on a first-hand basis with many of our clients. It’s with great pleasure that we commend these efforts with our respect, gratitude, and financial support.

Through a variety of resources, we are able to address important issues such as education, healthcare, civil rights and access to public transportation. It’s an honor to have represented more than 23,000 Mainers in our 41 years and it's an honor to be able to give back to the state we love so much.

In the past 10 years, our law firm has given away over $1,000,000 to the worthy organizations and charities including:

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Lyme Disease Awareness Month - Safety Information

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is a public service campaign supported by the Lyme Disease Foundation to educate the public about prevention and treatment of Lyme disease, which is a growing problem in parts of the country, including Maine.  The incidence of Lyme disease in Maine has been steadily increasing over the past several years, with more and more cases being diagnosed every year.

As most Mainers may know, it is the deer tick that that is responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in the Northeast.  Deer ticks thrive in heavily wooded areas, even in areas with long and harsh winters.

It is worth repeating the advice about how to prevent deer tick bites.  Recommendations include:

- Wear white or light clothing if you walk in wooded (or even grassy) areas, as it will be easier to spot the tiny, dark-colored ticks

- Shirts should be tucked into your pants, and socks should be pulled up over the bottom of your pants

- Insect repellent may be helpful, although repellent alone is not enough to protect you from tick bites

- Pets should be checked for ticks frequently

If you are bitten by a tick, removing the tick from your body may reduce the risk of disease from the bite.

More information about Lyme disease prevention and treatment is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at<>, and<>.

Harley Davidson Recall Information

Harley Davidson is recalling approximately 46,000 motorcycles in the United States due to defects with the clutch mechanism which can prevent the clutch from fully disengaging.  This can result in the rider losing control of the motorcycle.

The recall covers models from the 2015 and 2015 model years, and includes the Electra Glide, Ultra limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models.

More information is available at the Harley Davidson website, and at

Shark Vacuum Recall Information

The makers of Shark vacuum cleaners have issued a voluntary recall of four models:  NV650W, NV651, NV652, and NV660 due to a possibility of electrical failure.  The affected models are purple or maroon in color.

There have been no instances of injuries caused by the defect in these vacuum cleaners.

More information about this recall is available at

Study Examines Link Between Acetaminophen and Levels of Joy

According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, researchers have found that acetaminophen has the unexpected side effect of reducing pleasure while it reduces pain. Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol and several hundred other medicines sold for pain relief, and is widely used by millions of americans.

The authors of the study say it was already known that acetaminophen reduced psychological, as well as physical pain, but recent research indicates that it also reduced feelings of joy. To conduct the study, the researchers showed photographs of highly pleasant, and highly unpleasant things, to the participants in the study. Half of the participants in the study were given a large dose (larger than the normal dose) of acetaminophen. These participants reacted less strongly to both the positive and negative photographs. Based on this study, the researchers conclude that  the widespread use of Tylenol and other pain relievers containing acetaminophen may have implications for emotional, as well as physical, health.

Further studies are planned to study whether other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, have a similar correlation and effect on joy and pain.

Spring into Motorcycle Safety

"For Those Who Ride - Keep Joe Bornstein On Your Side"  

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we see firsthand the effects of serious motorcycle accidents. The injuries and consequences are often severe, with over 5,000 fatalities and 100,000 bikers injured each year - - and a 5-year average of 17 fatalities and 600 motorcycle accidents right here in Maine.

Whether you’re young or old, an experienced rider or new, it’s always wise to familiarize yourself with safety tips to help “Share the Road”: 

  • Maintain proper distance from other motorists as bikers are affected by elements that may not faze a motorist.
  • Be alert. As bikers get older, their reaction time begins to diminish. Nearly half of all motorcycle fatalities involve a rider over the age of 40.
  • Wear protective gear and carefully consider wearing a Department of Transportation compliant helmet. Proper safety gear can help save lives.
  • Avoid riding in bad weather.
  • Obey the general safety rules of the road and use hand and turn signals together to draw more attention to yourself when turning.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today for a free and confidential consultation.

And remember, by following a few easy to remember safety tips, you'll help make your next ride a safe ride.


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