MaineDOT

News Release for November 18, 2011

For more Information:
Paul Merrill, Public Information Officer - 207-624-3355 or 207-215-9297

 

MaineDOT, Maine State Police, the National Weather Service and AAA urge drivers to prepare for winter

For more information on winter driving, please visit maineDOT.gov.

This winter, The Maine Department of Transportation, the Maine State Police and AAA of Northern New England are urging motorists to slow down in winter conditions, give plow trucks plenty of room, and prepare your car for snowy weather before heading out on the roads.

Thanksgiving weekend generally marks the beginning of the winter driving season in Maine, and it also is one of the heaviest traffic weekends of the year. Each year, the region’s first snowfall brings a rash of crashes to Maine’s roads as drivers reacquaint themselves with winter conditions.

Maine’s snowiest month is January, but crash statistics show that there are more winter-weather related crashes in December than any other month. In fact, even though Maine experiences winter weather into the month of March, winter-weather related crashes continue to decline each month from December into March.

Speed is often the major cause of winter-weather related crashes. Drivers need to slow down since stopping on ice or snow requires extra time and distance. Drive safely below the speed limit so you don’t have brake suddenly, which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Plow operators need plenty of room to do their work safely. Drivers shouldn’t tailgate or pass a plow unless it is absolutely necessary and safe to do so. Plow truck operators have to deal with a limited field of vision while plowing, so driver should stay alert and keep a safe distance between their car and the plow.

Before motorists head out on the road this winter, they should be prepared, and give themselves extra time. Drivers can find out the latest road conditions by going to 511Maine.gov. The Google maps-based 511 web system can give drivers up-to-date road conditions that are supplied by MaineDOT plow operators and Maine State Troopers.

Motorists should also make sure their car is ready for winter driving by checking their tires, wiper blades, battery and clearing the car of any snow before traveling. Also, pack an emergency kit and keep it in the vehicle so it will be there when needed.

With snow soon to be in the forecast, MaineDOT, Maine State Police and AAA of Northern New England want drivers to follow these simple rules for staying safe on Maine’s wintry roads this year.

Remember, Ice and Snow, Take It Slow. Ice and Snow, Take It Slow! Stopping on snow or ice without skidding requires extra time and distance. Drive slowly – below posted speed limits - so you can adjust to the conditions. This is especially true at intersections, off ramps, bridges and shady areas where black ice can form without being noticed. Allow extra room between vehicles. Longer stopping distances and extra time are required during winter conditions to avoid chain reaction crashes. Avoid any sudden or excessive actions while steering, braking or accelerating so you don’t loose control. Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly and never slam on the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal.

Stay alert! Beware of what’s going on well ahead of you. Other vehicles can alert you to problem spots on the road which may give you the split second you need to avoid a crash. Needless to say, you can’t be alert if you’re on the phone so don’t let yourself get distracted. Maine’s winters can be harsh so take time to get ready.

Brush snow and ice off your vehicle including windows, lights, brake lights and turning signals. Allow extra time to reach your destination safely.

Before winter arrives, check your vehicles tires, wiper blades, battery, fluids, lights, belts and hoses. Throughout the winter season keep your fuel tank topped off. If you should become stuck in snow and have to wait for help, run your engine a few minutes at a time and open the window slightly to ensure adequate ventilation.

Just like you stock your home when a big storm is coming, stock your car before the first snowflake falls.

Ice scraper, Booster cables, a small bag of sand for wheel traction, small shovel, safety flares, extra gloves, coats, hats, blankets, bottled water, pre-packaged nuts & nutrition bars, check weather reports and driving conditions. If the weather or road conditions are bad, consider staying off the roads.

Call 511 or go to 511maine.gov for up-to-date information on road conditions.

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