Sad news was reported recently when an 88-year-old driver and his 82-year-old wife were killed after the husband lost control of their sport utility vehicle on a snow-covered road in Sanford, ME and collided head-on with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle he struck was not injured, although a passenger was taken to a nearby hospital to receive medical attention. Although The Bangor Daily News reports the car accident is still under investigation, authorities have been clear to say that snow and ice played a role in the collision.
As our Maine car accident attorneys can explain, no driver can control the weather, but that doesn’t mean the issue of liability is negated. That is because all motorists have a responsibility to drive their vehicles in a manner that is safe, considering the current road conditions.
As noted by the Maine Department of Transportation, that means first of all “maintaining a safe cushion,” or in other words giving yourself enough time to react if another driver ahead makes a mistake or if conditions suddenly change. The only way to do this is to keep enough space between your vehicle and those around you – particularly the vehicle ahead. When the roads are slippery (i.e., rainy, snowy, or icy), motorists need to give themselves even more time to slow or stop. That means maintaining a greater distance and also slowing down.
Winter weather driving is extremely hazardous, but those of us who have lived in Maine for many years know it’s something with which we must cope. That doesn’t mean we can afford to be careless or complacent about it.
Some of the ways the state DOT recommends approaching hazardous winter driving conditions in Maine are to:
- Ensure your vehicle is in good condition before the first snow starts to fall. If you break down or have some other mechanical failure in a storm, that could be very bad. Get a tune-up and “winterize” your car; make sure your tires are in good shape, or get snow tires installed. Have a mechanic check your exhaust system, battery, brakes, and antifreeze. Later, if you do crash, and there is evidence of a mechanical failure, liability may fall back on the vehicle maintenance shop.
- You will need to warm up your engine before you start driving, but the DOT indicates you only need about 30 seconds.
- Make sure your windows, windshield, and top of your vehicle are clear of snow and ice.
- When you first set out, get a general “feel” of the road and go slowly. You’re looking to find out if it’s slippery and then lower your speed accordingly. Just avoid slamming on your brakes, which might lock up your wheels and cause you to skid. If you do find yourself in a skid, stay off the brake, steer the wheel in the direction you want to go, and turn back the other way when the car starts to straighten out. If you don’t turn the wheel back, you’ll start into another skid. If it’s very slippery, and you can’t control your vehicle at all, look for something to stop you, such as a a snow bank, some bushes, or a dry shoulder.
- When you stop on a road that is covered in snow or ice, pump your brakes gently.
- Take the time to slow way down when approaching hills and curves.
If you are injured in a Bangor car accident in winter weather, we can help you explore your legal options for compensation.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Man dies in weekend head-on collision in Sanford, Dec. 11, 2017, By Callie Ferguson, The Bangor Daily News
More Blog Entries:
Black Ice Blamed in Numerous Maine Car Accidents Recently, Dec. 14, 2017, Bangor Car Accident Attorney Blog