That is the message for drivers this week.

2022 was the deadliest year on Maine’s roadways since 2007. As of Dec. 28, with still a few days to go before the year’s end, Maine had 177 traffic deaths on record for 2022. That is the worst it has been in 15 years since we suffered 183 deaths on the roads in 2007, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Each life is precious, a father or mother, son or daughter, friend or loved one. And it can happen to you or someone you love. It can happen in a matter of moments.

Many do not really believe that. We do because we have stood out on the roads taking pictures of the crumpled wrecks for the newspapers and we have watched EMS, firefighters and police working the scenes many times. Each time, it was a perfectly ordinary friend or neighbor involved in the crash. One moment of inattention, one decision to push the pedal down a little harder, one time being in too much of a hurry to put on the seat belt. That is all it takes.

Officials say speed is the number one factor. The other major factor is attention.

Today’s drivers do not pay enough attention to the road. Texting, playing with the radio, eating, doing makeup, talking to friends in the vehicle, talking on the phone can all lead to that one critical split-second decision.

Driving became faster and more aggressive during the pandemic — yet another thing to thank COVID for — and it has remained so even though the cars are back on the roads. People cannot afford to drive like it is the apocalypse even if it feels that way sometimes.

Deaths are up among 20-somethings, according to the Portland Press Herald. The state has a hard time reaching this demographic and younger because they do not tend to consume traditional media such as regular TV or newspapers.

You can do your part to help get the word out. Nag your 20-something, your teen, your friends, your children, whoever needs to hear it, about traffic safety. Slow down, buckle up and pay attention.

The world will not end if you fail to return a text or two between the house and Dunkin’ or Dunkin’ and the office.

This day in history

“On January 5, 1933, construction begins on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages,” according to History.com. It was a long-planned and massively expensive undertaking. “The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937, the longest bridge span in the world at the time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran and even roller skated over the new bridge.

“With its tall towers and famous trademarked ‘international orange’ paint job, the bridge quickly became a famous American landmark, and a symbol of San Francisco.”

Also, on this day in history, according to History.com: “On January 5, 1531, Pope Clement VII sends a letter to King Henry VIII of England forbidding him to remarry under penalty of excommunication. Henry, who was looking for a way out of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, ignored the pope’s warning. He went on to marry Anne Boleyn (and four subsequent wives), leading to his excommunication and one of the most significant schisms in the history of Christianity.”

The editorial board of The Courier-Gazette and The Camden Herald collaborate on issues of public interest.