It simply cannot be overstated: driving in a Massachusetts winter is dangerous. On Monday February 16, a driver was rescued after vaulting off a Massachusetts Turnpike bridge. The driver landed in the Quaboag River on Monday morning and was rescued by emergency personnel onboard a rescue sled. The driver was saved from the frozen river around 8:00am Monday morning and will be treated for exposure alongside many officers. This accident marks the third time in the past four days where a vehicle has careened over a guardrail on a state highway. It appears that some of these accidents are due to snow banks built up alongside the highway.
Recently, a driver narrowly avoided severe injuries after their vehicle hopped over an I-290 guardrail in Worcester and landed at the bottom of a 40-foot embankment. A similar accident injured a total of six people on I-495 near Marlborough. Although the Massachusetts Department of Transportation crews are still clearing these piles of snow, Michael Verseckes, a MassDOT spokesperson stated recently, “As a reminder, roads can still be icy and drivers should be extra cautious, maintain control of their vehicle, and be mindful of other vehicles on the road.”
Because Massachusetts has seen more than its fair share of snow this year, here are some tips to help keep you and your passengers safe in this final stretch:
Beware of Bridges
Even if you cannot see the ice or snow, and even when the roadways appear to be dry, the bridges will always ice first. Bridges that are curved can be especially dangerous. With the added hazard of snow embankments acting as ramps alongside the guardrails, the hazards of bridges is multiplied. Play it safe, slow down when approaching a bridge.
Vehicular overdrive becomes a problem in the winter for a couple of reasons. First, the headlights can only reach so far. At certain speeds, and especially in a heavy snow, headlights are not going to reach far enough to allow you to see obstacles in time to stop or slow down. Second, when the roads are wet or icy, you will need extra time to slow your car and slamming on the breaks will just cause extra problems. Don’t drive faster than you can see.
Know Your Brakes
Speaking of slowing down, it is extremely important in winter weather to know how well your car will slow. If you have an older car, one that is not equipped with an anti-lock brake system, you have the extra concern of ensuring that you “pump” the brakes (meaning you do not apply pressure all at once but slowly push up and down on them as your car slows). Each car is different so make sure that you test your brakes in winter weather before your safety depends on them working quickly.
These are just a few ways to help make sure that you and your loved ones arrive safely at your destinations this winter. If you do happen to find yourself in an accident this winter, contact Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation (508) 755-7535.