Old Man Winter came early this year, bringing with it the usual assortment of accidents and vehicles off roads. If you’re one of those folks who struggles to regain their winter driving bearings, here are a few tips from the Maine Department of Transportation to help you stay on the road:

Take it slow on ice and snow. 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.

Don’t turn your four-wheel drive into an “off-road” vehicle. Four-wheel drive may help you get going faster but it doesn’t help you stop sooner or maintain control better once you loose traction. Take it slow!

Allow extra room between vehicles. Longer stopping distances and extra time are required during winter conditions to avoid chain reaction crashes.

Don’t take chances when pulling out in front of approaching vehicles. Remember, when the pavement is wet, you may not be able to slow down and they may not be able to accelerate as quickly as you would on dry pavement.

Avoid using cruise control. You need to be in full control when road conditions are wet or icy. Don’t let your cruise control make a bad decision for you.

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.

And perhaps most important of all, stay alert. Be aware and 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.

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