Maine Motorists Must be Cautious of Road and Weather Conditions

Drivers in the Freeport area were advised recently by the Maine Department of Transportation to use caution due to heavy rains and standing water on the turnpike.

The department told motorists they should adjust their speed accordingly and remain alert.

The warning was issued after one vehicle traveling on I-295 southbound hydroplaned and flipped on a recent Sunday morning. Four people were in the vehicle, but luckily, no one was seriously injured. Officials advise ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.

Our Maine accident attorneys recognize that even under the best of conditions, operating a motor vehicle requires drivers be attentive, cautious and use their best judgment. But when there are special conditions or certain hazards that arise, exercising good judgment and extra caution becomes even more important.

That means knowing how to adjust your speed and drive patterns in bad weather or in the event of an emergency. Even slight rain or ice can make roads slick and dangerous. A morning fog can make visibility difficult, putting drivers at risk of a collision.

Some special conditions for which it is important to adjust one’s speed:

  • Sun Glare
  • Fog
  • Rain
  • Snow and Ice
  • Wind
  • Reduced Traction
  • Hot weather

Because conditions can change abruptly, drivers must always be prepared by knowing how to react. Drivers also need to understand that most other drivers aren’t going to adjust their driving behavior in hazardous conditions, so operating the vehicle defensively becomes imperative.

It’s not so much about having special skills as recognizing the hazard and adjusting a few key behaviors. Those involve:

  • Slowing down
  • Increasing the following distance from the car ahead of you
  • Be prepared for motorists around you to make poor choices

In heavy rain conditions, wet roadways pose a significant safety hazard. When roads are rain-slicked, drivers may experience a decrease in traction. That means it takes a lot longer to brake than on a dry surface. And it’s not even necessarily a problem just in heavy rain conditions. Even a drizzle can produce this effect. In heavy rains, however, there is also the risk of hydroplaning, which occurs when a vehicle travels too fast on water-covered roads. When a vehicle hydroplanes, the tires aren’t touching the ground and therefore have no traction.

In snow, it’s a good idea to slow down and drive in tire tracts, as these grooves will create the best traction. Try to avoid changing lanes if you can, as there is often a buildup of crunchy snow that can make this maneuver dangerous.

If you encounter fog, turn off your high beams and flip on your fog lights. The high beams will reflect off the cloud and bounce back into the driver’s face. If you have to brake, tap your brakes so the driver behind you is alerted, reducing your risk of being rear-ended. Stay in the right-most lane and eliminate other distractions – especially music and other sounds. You will need to listen for cars spinning, braking or crashing ahead of you.

If you find yourself in a sun glare, you must slow down. Keep a pair of dark sunglasses handy and pull down your visor to help improve visibility.

In windy conditions, drivers may experience reduced steering control and tail winds can actually push the car, making it travel faster than intended. Drivers need to be prepared to reduce their speed accordingly.

If you are injured in a crash that occurred in inclement weather, that doesn’t mean no one is at-fault. All drivers owe others on the road a duty to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner, given road and weather conditions. Although no one controls the weather, we can all adjust our reaction to it.

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.

Additional Resources:

Motorists urged to slow down as heavy rain fell over southern Maine Sunday, June 28, 2015, By Julia Bayly, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Motorcycle Accident Results in Head Injuries, June 12, 2015, Portland Car Accident Attorney Blog

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