According to, there was an increase of more than 1,500 vehicle crashes from 2016 to 2017.

Massachusetts drivers may have a reputation for erratic moves on the road, but Mainers can claim bragging rights to being ranked the worst drivers in the United States, far ahead of Massachusetts, which ranks 22nd.

The Pine Tree State has a reputation for lobster rolls and lighthouses, but the state also is home to the country’s worst drivers, according to QuoteWizard, an insurance company owned by LendingTree.

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“A drastic rise in traffic citations and fatalities are to blame for Maine’s jump from seventh worst last year to the absolute bottom of the bunch this year,” QuoteWizard said about the ranking, which was released Thursday.

According to, there was an increase of more than 1,500 vehicle crashes from 2016 to 2017.

Vermont ranked 11th among worst driver states, New Hampshire 19th, Connecticut 29th and Rhode Island 42nd.

Nationally, Maine was followed by South Carolina, Nebraska, California and North Dakota.

The best drivers were in Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Michigan.

QuoteWizard said roadway crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States and were expected to cause approximately 40,000 deaths by the end of 2018.

Texting behind the wheel is a major reason for many traffic fatalities, and it’s only getting worse. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving.

Cheap gas and a strong economy mean America’s 222 million licensed drivers are driving more than ever. More people on the road leads to more crashes and citations, QuoteWIzard said.

Another negative about bad driving is high insurance rates.

So how can safe drivers keep their prices when they’re surrounded by terrible drivers?

Options including bundling insurance plans to shopping around different insurance companies and comparing auto insurance quotes.

Drivers who are part of the problem likely have a couple points on their license from past tickets or crashes. Car insurance for bad drivers always costs more. A bad driver’s best option is to look for affordable high-risk car insurance, QuoteWizard advised.

To come up with the rankings, QuoteWizard sampled incident data (with more than 2 million data points) from the users of its website and juxtaposed it to Federal Highway Administration fatality data.

To quantify overall driver standards for comparison, it weighted various incident totals for each state with its occurrence percentage. The rankings are a sum of weighted means calculated from crashes, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations and fatalities.

Commercial real estate activity picks up in central Maine

Leases on commercial properties in central Maine picked up in 2018, though the region still suffers from a decade or more of inventory.

“That’s not great news,” Kevin Fletcher, associate broker at Northeast Commercial Brokers/Keller Williams Realty, told attendees at last week’s Maine Real Estate and Development Association annual forecasting meeting in Portland.

In Lewiston/Auburn, of the 198 leases available, 19 were signed in 2018. That still leaves 10 years of inventory on the market.

However, Fletcher pointed to some notable sales in the Lewiston/Auburn, Augusta/Waterville and Brunswick/Topsham areas.

The largest industrial sale in the Lewiston/Auburn area, for $2.8 million, was at 1130 Minot Ave. in Auburn. Another industrial building at 70 Commercial St. in Lewiston went for $1.8 million.

The largest leased space, at 115 Logistics Drive in Auburn, was for 60,000 square feet.

The largest project currently underway in the area is an $11.8 million deal at 159 Liston St. in Lewiston, followed by a $6.6 million project at 477 Minot Ave. in Auburn.

The Augusta/Waterville area saw some large developments in 2018, including the 13,500-square-foot medical office for Waterville Pediatrics at 295C Kennedy Memorial Drive.

The Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons opened in 2018 as the centerpiece of Waterville’s downtown revitalization plan. It includes a Colby College dormitory that can house 200 students.

Fletcher said the Bath/Brunswick/Topsham area also saw some notable developments in the 44,000-square-foot Topsham Care Center. In Brunswick, Convenient MD set up on Bath Road and Wayfair started its Phase 2 expansion at the former Navy base.

He sees opportunities in apartments and new construction housing for central Maine, which has a relatively large stock of older housing.

“Investment in the region will continue,” Fletcher said. “It is a very stable, healthy market.”

Mainers named to Boston Fed advisory council

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has announced six new members of the New England Advisory Council.

Executives of two Maine companies are among the new appointees from various New England states. The council members rotate every two years.

Joining the council from Maine are Kierston Van Soest, chief financial officer at L.L. Bean, and Oliver Smith, CEO of Portland-based O. & Co., a mergers and acquisitions advisory company.

One of Smith’s clients is Hinckley Yachts, which bought Morris Yachts in 2016.

The council meets quarterly by Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and includes senior leaders of small to midsize businesses throughout New England.

Members advise the bank about underlying trends in the economy as viewed through their own companies and respective industries.

That includes revenue forecasts, employment practices, capital spending and access to credit.

The other new members are Carol Conway Bulman, CEO and president, Jack Conway & Co., a Massachusetts and Rhode Island real estate firm; Karen Colberg, co-CEO, King Arthur Flour, Norwich, Vermont; Brad Hittle, founder, CEO and president, Two Roads Brewing Co., Stratford, Connecticut; and Gregory Janey, president, Janey Construction Management and Consulting Inc., Boston.

The new members join Amy Latimer, president of TD Garden and the chair of the 2019 council: James T. Brett, president and CEO, New England Council; Travis McCready, president and CEO, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center: Nannu Nobis, CEO, Nobis Engineering, Concord, New Hampshire; Paul Rumul, president, The Davenport Companies, a South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, owner of real estate and other companies; and Jessica Tang, president, Boston Teachers Union.

More fast food companies commit to recycling

KFC, which has 10 restaurants in Maine, on Thursday became the most recent fast food company to commit to recycling plastic packaging as part of a corporate commitment to use sustainable business practices.

The company, based in Plano, Texas, said it aims to use only recoverable or reusable plastic-based consumer packaging by 2025. It has 22,000 restaurants worldwide.

“KFC is in a position to have a real impact on how the [fast food] industry approaches waste and packaging management overall,” Tony Lowings, KFC’s CEO, said in a statement.

To meet its goal, KFC said it will partner with major suppliers and franchisees globally to identify plastic alternatives in each market.

KFC is not the only fast food chain to rethink its impact on the environment.

McDonald’s has committed to sourcing 100 percent of its packaging from renewable or recycled sources by 2025.

Starbucks has pledged $10 million to finding better ways to recycle the estimated 6 billion cups it uses each year.

Wendy’s, an active participant in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, aims to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent by 2025.

And Dunkin’ Donuts plans to eliminate all foam cups worldwide in 2020, replacing them with double-walled paper cups.

WEX completes purchase of electronic network company

WEX, a South Portland company that offers corporate payments solutions, said Thursday it had completed its acquisition of Noventis, an electronic payments network based in Houston, Texas.

Noventis focuses on streamlining payment delivery of bills and invoices to commercial entities.

WEX said the acquisition of Noventis will add new products and business channels to the accounts payable products offered by WEX’s corporate payments business. The acquisition also will give WEX more access to billing aggregators and financial institutions.

Noventis already had supplied WEX with virtual cards for payment transactions.