Maine’s First Winter Storm Packs Wallop for Drivers

An early blast of winter dumped more than a foot of snow across Maine recently, effectively ushering out autumn with bitter cold, strong winds and widespread flurries.

News reports indicated winds reached speeds of up to 50-miles-per-hour, while more than 135,000 households were without power. The Portland Press Herald reported numerous roads were impassable, which slowed recovery efforts in some areas. In some instances, Canadian crews were even called upon to come help as Gov. Paul LePage declared a limited emergency. This allowed utility crews to work overtime.

Throughout the state, roads were slick and treacherous. Reports were numerous vehicles careened off the road in Freeport and Brunswick. Trees fell on thoroughfares in Scarborough. There were also several crashes with injuries, including a collision between a sport-utility vehicle and a minivan in Falmouth that led to seven people hospitalized. Authorities would later say the SUV driver was traveling the speed limit, but it was too fast for road conditions.

In Bangor, there was a record for the earliest double-digit snowfall days, previously set back on Nov. 15, 1962.

All of this occurred approximately seven weeks before the official start of winter.

While some forecasters are predicting a respite from such conditions, at least for a few weeks, our Portland auto injury  lawyers see this as a good opportunity to point out that motorists must adjust their driving behaviors in the midst of winter weather.

It’s not enough to simply travel the speed limit or give yourself just enough time to get to your destination. Drivers need to significantly reduce speed, ensure their vehicles are in good working condition and provide themselves ample time to get where they’re going in order to avoid rushing.

Generally speaking, bad weather is not going to excuse negligence behind the wheel. All motorists have a legal duty to drive safely at any given time, with full consideration of the conditions. The fact is, most winter crashes are avoidable when drivers are practicing safe driving habits and take those few extra precautions.

We recognize there is a curve of adjustment as drivers again become acclimated to winter road conditions. However, they may still face liability for negligence if they don’t adjust their driving to the weather conditions, fail to service their car in preparation for winter conditions or drive in a manner that displays overconfidence in vehicle safety features (like four-wheel drive).

You can’t control the weather, of course, but if you live in Maine or travel through it, you can expect to encounter inclement road conditions throughout the winter season. AAA recommends motorists consider the following as they prepare to head out:

  • Make sure tires are properly inflated, and that radial tires aren’t mixed with other types
  • Avoid if possible using the parking brake in cold, rainy or snowy weather
  • Avoid use of cruise control while on an icy or wet road surface
  • Always look and steer where you want to go
  • Always wear your seat belt
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly and with extra caution
  • Driver more slowly in general
  • Become familiar with your own brakes
  • Don’t try to power up icy hills
  • Stay home if you can help it (even if you’re extremely cautious, you can bet at least one other driver you encounter will not be so careful)

If you are injured as a result of a weather-related crash in Maine, contact an experienced attorney for advice on how to obtain just 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.

Additional Resources:

Maine says goodbye to fall, digs out of brutal storm, Nov. 3, 2014, By John Bacon and Doyle Rice, USA Today

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