I don’t want to die on Route 1A.

For almost 22 years now, I have driven the 26 miles of Route 1A between Brewer and Ellsworth, and I have pretty much seen it all.

I have seen the young college girl applying make up while looking into the rear view mirror for miles, and the woman who would read a hard cover book above the steering wheel while on her way to work. I've seen far too many people staring down at their phones while cruising along at 70+ mph, and those that continue to blatantly text in full view of oncoming traffic. I've even seen a state trooper begin to drift into my lane while talking on his cell.

There was that one winter when it seemed that every morning when it snowed badly, a woman would blow by us in a red Jeep Cherokee going far too fast for the conditions. It was almost humorous that one stormy morning when we drove by as she sat in her Cherokee atop a snowbank in someone’s front yard calling for help on her cell.

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I have sat in stopped lines of traffic for far too long as emergency responders and those responsible for reconstructing and cleaning up, take care of accident scenes. I've wondered many times if I should continue to wait or turn around and take the long way home.

I've driven in speeding bumper-to-bumper traffic both ways on roads that weren’t built for it, as those that were in a rush to either get to work or to get home were detoured via the Mann Hill Road in Holden, or even worse the Red Bridge Road in Ellsworth.

I have seen the accident scenes and the carnage left thereafter. One time I couldn’t believe my eyes as a Ford SUV sat on its side atop McGowan’s Hill in Ellsworth, and a piston from its mangled engine was lying by itself in the middle of the road left over from a tremendous force of impact.

I've seen road rage bring drivers to a stand-still, amazed, intimidated, and frightened by what they're seeing and by what lies ahead.

I have seen the disturbing amount of roadkill that over time becomes one with the pavement. I have seen deer, porcupine, squirrels, seagulls and hawks, entire families of raccoons, and the moose that raised its head as we drove by, left behind after only trying to exist as they know how.

An accident by the Winkumpaugh Road in Ellsworth - TSM photo
An accident by the Winkumpaugh Road in Ellsworth - TSM photo

Every day, I see the roadside memorials. There was the cross and bouquet of flowers left at the scene where a young Coast Guard family from Jonesport lost their lives on a rainy day. The ever-expanding and sometimes illuminated garden, where two well-known young people who worked in a downtown Bangor bar died after being hit by a drunk driver. I remember the markings on the road left by the accident reconstruction people when a man from Blue Hill died after being hit head-on by a vehicle that had drifted into the oncoming lane.

The Maine Department of Transportation can put up all the creative traffic signs they want. That empty Holden police cruiser can sit beside the road. Those state troopers can monitor their radar on the other side of the hill in Lucerne, and the Ellsworth cops and Hancock County deputies can file out of the Autumn Road in bulk, but it’s ultimately up to YOU -- the driver of a two-ton fast-rolling apparatus of metal and steel -- to drive safely, legally and respectfully.

Slow it down, pay attention, and most importantly, stay on your side of the road.

I don’t want to die on Route 1A. Please help a commuter out.

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