Driving With Snow on Your Car Isn’t Just Dangerous, It’s Illegal

It’s wintertime, the weather’s cold, and it just snowed a few inches. When you’re in a hurry and just want to get going, scraping your windows or clearing snow off your car is the last thing you want to worry about. So, you might do what many others have and just scrape a spot large enough to view the road as you drive. As long as you can see, what’s the harm? Well, actually, there’s plenty of harm it could cause.

Winter driving encompasses more than just being able to handle slippery roads. It also includes taking care of your car and how you operate it. Failure to remove snow from vehicles causes rust to form on your car or truck, but that’s minor compared to the other things that could happen. It poses a dangerous threat and you could also get in trouble with the law, according to a Good Housekeeping article.

How dangerous can it be?

A car driving in the snow during winter season
Driving in the snow | Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When you drive down the road, the whole windshield needs to be free of any obstructions. Yes, that includes snow and ice. To drive safely, you have to see what’s going on all around you. If you can’t see what’s coming from all directions, how will you know to avoid an accident or avoid hitting a deer or other local wildlife? By the same token, if you don’t clear snow off your hood, it could blow at your windshield, obstructing your view, or worse, another driver’s view.

Imagine driving down the road at a high speed, and a chunk of ice flies off of your car’s roof. It makes a beeline for the vehicle behind you and smashes, at high speed, into the windshield killing the driver. That’s what happened back in 2005, according to NPR, to a woman driving her family to her parent’s house for Christmas. Her death sparked a Pennsylvania representative to petition a law for the snow and ice removal on vehicles, which brings up the next point – it can be illegal.

Driving with snow on the car is potentially illegal

Weather Guide reports that some places have made it a law that says you have to keep your car clear of ice and snow to drive on the roads. States like Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Missouri are a few of those that will fine you anywhere from $75 to $1,000 for driving with snow and ice on your windows and the roof of your car. Other states like Alaska, Illinois, and New York, have laws preventing you from driving with anything obstructing the windows, which would include snow and ice.

Some places will stop you but won’t necessarily fine you. Troopers in Indiana might have you removed from the roadway until you deal with the snow and ice sufficiently. Truckers, driving in the District of Columbia, could get pulled over for snow and ice accumulations on the top of their vehicle. While you may not face any fines, it could cost you time for having to chat with a law enforcement officer. You could check and see what your local laws are for your area, but it’s probably best just to keep your vehicle clear of ice and snow to begin with.

Tips for removing the snow from your car

Most of the time, drivers cut corners with snow removal on their cars because they’re in a hurry to get somewhere or it’s just too cold outside to deal with scraping windows. Safety features on cars have come a long way, but we’re not quite to the point where we can drive without seeing out the window. There are a few tips, though, that could help you get your car drive-ready without spending a long time out in the cold. Here are some things to try the next time it snows and you have to get going:

1. Place covers, like cardboard, over your windows, while the car sits. When you get off work, or when you get up in the morning, just remove the covers from your windows, let the vehicle warm up, and you’re ready to go. No need to freeze your fingers in the cold air.

2. Place a heavy-duty tarp over the top of the car. This will cover the roof, hood, and the windows, so when you need to get going, all you have to do is pull the tarp off, brush off any snow that falls off, and start it up.

3. Use a snow broom for the snow. If you find yourself with a couple of inches of snow on top of your car, you can use a snow broom to brush off the snow quickly. Use a soft-bristled one that won’t damage the paint of your vehicle. This helps when you can’t reach some areas easily.

You may think it’s one of those crazy laws, but it’s actually serious and could save lives, not to mention prevent injuries. Some places will fine you a hefty amount, so keep yourself and others safe on the road by keeping your car clear of snow and ice.