In the biting cold of winter, it is sometimes tempting to only scrape off the parts of your car that are necessary to drive. While this habit is understandable, it can have a deadly impact on other drivers on the road as sheets of ice sliding off of your car in traffic can potentially cause an accident. And not only can this conduct put you and others at risk, there are legal consequences to not fully clearing off your car. For example, New Jersey has enacted a new law making it illegal to drive with any snow or ice on a car.
While other states, including Pennsylvania, have enacted similar laws, New Jersey is the first state to require cars to be totally free of ice and snow. According to New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer, the law is necessary because sheets of frozen muck that become airborne at highway speeds can kill other motorists. “It’s really a move from being reactive to proactive,” Fischer said. “You don’t have to wait until something bad happens.”
In 2006, Pennsylvania enacted a law that allowed police officers to cite motorists for damage and injury caused by ice and snow flying off moving vehicles. The Pennsylvania statute was adopted after the family of Christine Lambert lobbied for the cause. Lambert was killed on Christmas Day in 2005 when block of ice flew off a truck and smashed through her windshield. Unlike New Jersey, however, the law does not address clearing ice and snow off the roof of the car.
In recent years, the fines for failing to clear the snow off a vehicle before driving it in Pennsylvania have gone up to $2,000.
In general, all Pennsylvania drivers should take the time to winterize their cars, which extends well beyond clearing snow from cars. For in-depth information on how to keep your car safe for you and other drivers, see the “Avoid an Accident on Snow or Ice” and “Winter Driving Safety” articles, located on this website. Also check out our article on how best to shovel your sidewalks following a snow.
If you’ve been injured due to snow flying from someone else’s car or truck, contact Carpey Law for a free consultation. We’ve always been on the accident victim’s side.