ELLSWORTH, Maine — As winter weather has tip-toed into the state during the last few days, numerous motorists have found themselves slowing down and — in some cases — off the road or in minor accidents.
No serious injuries had been reported by early Saturday evening, but state police and transportation officials say the first snowfall of the year is a good time to remind drivers to slow down.
According to information provided by the Maine Department of Transportation, Thanksgiving weekend generally marks the beginning of the winter driving season in Maine, and also is one of the heaviest traffic weekends of the year. This year, it also coincided with the region’s first snow to bring a rash of crashes to Maine’s roads as drivers reacquaint themselves with winter conditions.
Crash statistics show that while Maine’s snowiest month is January, there are more winter-weather related crashes reported in December than in any other month.
Maine DOT, Maine State Police and AAA of Northern New England have teamed up to urge motorists to slow down in winter conditions, to give plow trucks plenty of room, and prepare vehicles for snowy weather before heading out on the roads.
Speed is the major cause of winter-weather related crashes. Drivers need to slow down since stopping on ice or snow requires extra time and distance. Sudden braking can cause drivers to lose control.
“Beware of what’s going on well ahead of you,” MDOT warns. “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.”
State officials also urge drivers to avoid tailgating or passing plow trucks unless it’s necessary.
They also recommend that motorists check current driving conditions by visiting the website www.511maine.gov and make sure vehicles are ready for the winter months.
More information on winter driving is available online at www.maineDOT.gov.