It seems hard to believe that soft snow blowing off your car can cause a crash which could seriously harm a pedestrian or another vehicle. But it’s not just snow. Often there is a layer of ice under that build-up of snow.
While not illegal in Maryland, driving with snow on your car can be dangerous, to yourself and others. In addition to blocking the view through your windows, you may have ice on your car that can fly off from the top or sides and become hazardous to others.
Even if you’ve scraped enough snow and ice off of your windshield to see in front of you, you must be able to see all around your car. Portions of the windshield that still have ice and frost make it impossible to see all the cars or people that may be near you. Visibility is key in all driving environments, but particularly during or after a snowstorm, when the snow makes roads extremely slick and slippery and difficult to drive on.
Snow Sliding Over Windshield
Snow suddenly blocking your view through your own windshield can be alarming. Just a few seconds of an obstructed view can cause a poor decision and lead to a car accident.
Snow piled high on your car’s roof can slowly side down or can abruptly fall forward and completely obstruct your view of the road ahead. the weight of the snow can make your windshield wipers useless.
On a freeway, where your reaction time is significantly slower, multiple car crashes can occur. Driving locally, you could hit another car or a pedestrian crossing the street, particularly when both people and cars are susceptible to slipping and sliding on icy roads.
Danger to Other Drivers
Driving with snow on the roof of your car is illegal in 11 states. it is not illegal in Maryland.
As your car heats up, the snow and ice that begins melting has the potential to go flying off the roof of your vehicle. This creates a hazard for the drivers behind you. Snow flying off your car can also create a mini-blizzard or near white-out conditions, instantly obstructing the view of the driver behind you. You may not even realize the dangers you’ve put others in.
Highway patrol, troopers, and police in many states recognize these dangers as hazards and may pull you over to ask you to properly clean off your car. Some drivers, like those in New Jersey, face heavy fines up to $1,000, if flying ice or snow causes property damage or injury to others.
Often referred to as “ice missiles” these are sheets and shards of ice that fly off the roof or other parts of your vehicle and turn into dangerous projectiles. These slabs of ice can cause severe property damage, in addition to the hazard it poses for others while driving.
Victims who survived dangerous incidents on the road can recall seeing the ice fly off the car in front of them and hearing the crack of their windshield. Suddenly they were covered in shattered glass that had exploded all over their car. the driver and passengers were not physically harmed, but the splintered glass shards covered their bodies, clothes, and faces.
In another case that did not end so well, an older driver who had been unable to clear the snow from her car’s roof, jumped on the highway on her way to visit a friend. While driving, a slab of ice flew off the roof of her car and shot into the driver’s side windshield of the car behind her. the driver died in the hospital shortly thereafter.
Negligent Snow Removal
Drivers in the state of Maryland owe a duty to other drivers on the roads they share. They should exercise reasonable care given the circumstances and not make careless or reckless decisions as they drive. If it is determined that a car accident would not have occurred but for your careless actions in not removing snow and ice off your car, you may be leaving yourself open to personal liability.
Similar to snow removal laws in most parts of the country where snowstorms are a common occurrence, you cannot allow a hazard to remain uncleared.
If you drive with snow or ice on your car, some states may charge motorists with distracted driving or with making the roads dangerous for others. These charges are based on the negligent actions of the driver in not clearing their car of snow and ice before beginning to drive.
How to Properly Remove Snow From Your Car
When you can’t keep your car in a garage or under a covered awning, remove the snow and ice with a soft brush or broom, starting from the roof of your car and working your way down.
Here are some logical steps to follow:
- Turn on the front and rear window defrosters to do some of the hard work for you.
- Clear snow and ice from the roof first, that way you won’t risk covering up your hard work with more snow.
- Use a long-handled snow brush or snow broom that is safe to use on cars. Shovels and some ice scrapers can leave marks on your paint.
- Don’t yank on your windshield wipers, chip the ice away slowly.
- Be sure to clear snow from your entire car. This includes removing snow from the:
- side windows
- side view mirrors
- rear window
- license plates
- AND headlights
- It’s best to prevent snow accumulation in the first place, using a windshield snow cover can aid in this. A heavy-duty tarp that covers the car roof, as well as the windshield, is also helpful.
- Don’t use hot water to melt the snow – it could crack your windshield and leave a hazardous pool of water around your car.
- Spray cooking oil on rubber seals. This will help prevent doors from sealing shut.
- Use a straw to blow warm air directly on your frozen door lock to melt it. Hand sanitizer containing alcohol can also help if you put it on your lock and its key.
What To Do Beforehand
- You may have seen cars with their windshield wipers popped up. That actually helps prevent them from freezing, add socks over them for good measure.
Placing plastic bags over side mirrors can also be helpful – you can use rubber bands to secure them into place.
- Consider using ice prevention spray on your windows.
- Cover your windows. As tacky as it looks, covering your windshield with a piece of cardboard or even a towel, can help prevent ice from forming on your windshield.
- Park your car facing east. the rising sun can help melt the snow and ice.