Maine has been battered in recent weeks by heavy snow, angry winds exceeding 30 mph and bitter, frigid cold dipping close to 0 degrees.
These kinds of conditions aren’t new in the northeastern U.S., but for some reason, many people seem to drive like they’ve never encountered it. Motorists often travel entirely too fast for the conditions, don’t give themselves enough time to get where they are going and pull aggressive maneuvers on roads that are slick and treacherous to begin with.
On a recent weekend where snowfall topped 7 inches in some parts of Maine, numerous traffic accidents were reported throughout the state. All of these were attributed by officials to slippery conditions. It got so bad at one point that state officials reduced speed limits along the Maine Turnpike down to 45 mph.
Even so, there were still multiple auto collisions. According to the Portland Press Herald, one vehicle drove into the median near Exit 53. In another case out of Casco, a car overturned and emergency workers had to break the windshield to extract the female driver.
You may recall last year around this time, a 75-car pileup on I-95 near Etna, which is about 30 miles west of Bangor. It was actually a series of wrecks, some involving two or three vehicles and others where cars ran off the road to avoid colliding with the other cars on the highway. Witnesses described a frightening scene where cars and trucks were spinning, slamming into each other and sliding off into ditches and off into the median. One longtime police trooper described the crash site as appearing to be one “giant pile of metal.”
The incident closed off 30 miles of highway were closed for hours.
Even drivers who have experience with snow can be caught off guard if they aren’t driving with caution at all times. It’s important to understand that conditions can quickly change here, from clear and sunny to blizzard-like in an hour or two.
Meanwhile, officials in Portland are issuing periodic overnight parking bans, to help give crews additional time to clear city streets to make them safer for drivers.
Motorists need to know their vehicle, know what the road conditions are and make sure that if they encounter any adverse conditions, they take it slow. If you’re new to the area, new to driving, have a new vehicle or even just need a refresher, take time to practice in an open, snowy parking lot so you can get an idea of how your car handles in adverse weather.
Officials in Bangor have the following general advice for all navigating through winter weather:
- Lower your speed and give yourself ample room to stop if you need to – at least three times as much as usual.
- Brake gently. If you slam on the brakes, you’re likely to skid.
- Turn your lights on so other drivers can see you.
- If you’re driving on ice, don’t use cruise control or overdrive.
- On bridges, overpasses or roads that are infrequently traveled, be especially careful. These are the places that are going to form ice first.
- Don’t try to pass sanding or snow plow trucks. These drivers can’t see well what’s behind them and the road ahead of them isn’t likely to be great for driving anyway.
If you can at all avoid driving in these dangerous conditions, that is usually for the best. That creates less of a risk for you personally, and less traffic for those who do have to be on the road.
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.
After a day of snow, frigid weather in store for Mainers Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2016, Staff Reports, Portland Press Herald
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Insurance Coverage for Intentional Tort With a Vehicle, Dec. 20, 2016, Portland Car Accident Lawyer Blog