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Road Conditions Cause Cars to Slide Off I-89

Randolph — State Police had to scramble Tuesday afternoon as nine vehicles slid off snow-covered Interstate 89 during that day’s snowstorm.

Authorities said four cars slid off the roadway along I-89 southbound in Randolph, Bethel and Royalton. Police said all four “crashes were caused by operators traveling too fast for the existing road conditions.”

Five different vehicles also went off the entrance ramp to the southbound area along Interstate 89 in Randolph. No injuries and little damage were reported, but the motorists were cited with failure to maintain control of their vehicles.

Vermont State Police said about 7 p.m. Tuesday, a driver crossed the center line of Route 22A in Addison, and his sedan collided with a van. The driver of the sedan, 46-year-old Gene Oliver of Bridport, Vt., died at the scene. The other driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. State police said the road was slippery at the time.

Meanwhile, Vermont highway and transportation officials have expanded the use of salt-water brine “tow plows,” which can cover two lanes on Interstate 89 in a single pass, as they deal with snow and ice covered roads this winter.

Distracted drivers also will face new penalties. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, it will be illegal for a driver to use a handheld electronic device in a work zone. A conviction for a first offense may result in a fine of $230 and a 2-point assessment on a driver’s license. A second conviction carries a fine of $479 and 5 points on a license.

“All the plowing and salting in the world won’t help us if people don’t slow down, put the phone down, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road,” said Transportation Agency District 5 Administrator Dave Blackmore. “We see too many people out there speeding, crowding the plow trucks and driving without proper snow tires. It’s pretty simple. If you slow down and pay attention, you’re much less likely to wind up off the road. We want Vermonters to drive like it’s winter.”