WINSLOW — A Clinton woman escaped serious injury Wednesday morning when her car spun off Route 137 and hit trees, the latest in a string of crashes on the busy road that have police concerned enough to step up patrols and collect speed data.

Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary said recent crashes and recently-collected traffic data suggest the most dangerous times are during the morning and afternoon commutes.

“It seems like whenever we have a serious motor vehicle crash (in Winslow) it is generally on the China Road in the morning or afternoon, the commute to work or home,” O’Leary said in an interview Wednesday. “We see a tremendous amount of high speed, and some real serious traffic crashes.”

In Wednesday’s crash, Stephanie Hayes, 33, of Clinton, was driving a 2012 Toyota Corolla east when her car drifted across the busy route, also known as China Road, and into a ditch, according to O’Leary. The car spun, rolled over and hit some trees, and police were called at 8:14 a.m.

“Thank God there was no one traveling the other way,” O’Leary said. “She was very lucky. The officers there said she was extremely lucky — if she had hit a tree head-on, it would have been more serious.”

Hayes, who was alone in the car, complained of chest and back pain when emergency responders arrived and she was taken to a local hospital, O’Leary said. The car was destroyed and towed from the scene of the crash, which happened near 1340 China Road.


Just about 500 feet west down the road, there was a head-on crash between two vehicles in April that left a Waterville woman with serious injuries. In 2013, less than a mile west of there on China Road, a woman was seriously injured after her vehicle crossed the centerline and collided head-on a Mack Truck.

O’Leary said there’s no indication speed was a factor in the crash involving Hayes, but the police chief said excessive driving speeds have contributed to other crashes on China Road and are a top concern for police.

He said police have a speed data-collection device that can collect information for week-long period and reveal speeding trends.

During six days in mid-July, the device recorded 25,681 vehicles traveling both ways at a point at the eastern end of China Road in Winslow. The average vehicle speed was 53 mph in the 50 mph zone, but the device also recorded dozens of vehicles driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit and more than 20 vehicles going 90 mph or higher.

“Data shows one of the things is it is during morning hours also during hours coming home, so what we’ve done is have targeted those areas just to do some presence, do some speed enforcement details and just try to slow people down,” O’Leary said. “We’re asking people to slow it down, stay off your phone. It’s important to know you have to be aware of what’s coming at you and be aware of your speed.”

O’Leary said there have not been any deadly crashes on China Road during the last three years he has been police chief, but fatalities have happened on the road in the past.

Lowering the speed limit from 50 mph likely wouldn’t have any impact on the frequency of crashes on the road, which is a state road and would require state approval for any such change, O’Leary said.

“I think 50 mph is a prudent speed out there — you just got to keep it in your lane, and you can’t be going over the posted speed limit,” O’Leary said.

One idea O’Leary said may be worth looking at is creating rumble strips in the centerline of the road to help ward against vehicles drifting into the opposite lane.

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