Don't Give Snow and Ice a Free Ride!

Ice all over car windshield

Anywhere there’s snow you’ll see a person driving down the road with their vehicle still covered in snow or windows still frosted over.  Maybe it’s happened to you?  You’re getting ready to start your trek into work on a snowy day, you’ve cleared off what you can reach – but there’s still snow on the roof of your vehicle.  Just the other day, I was that person. 


Living in Maine, I know the dangers of driving in the snow.  A slippery commute to work is part of life in the northeast.  Clearing off my vehicle, I started with the windshield and made sure to get all of the windows, mirrors, lights, windshield wipers, the buildup on the hood, and what I could reach of the roof. 


Rolling up to a stop light I was suddenly blinded by a wall of white.  That little patch of snow that I neglected to remove slid onto my windshield completely blocking my view.  The heavy snow/rain mix was no match for my windshield wipers; I had no choice but to get out of my vehicle in the middle of the road and clear the snow. 


I was lucky that the snow slid onto my windshield when I was stopped and not while I was moving.  I was lucky that I wasn’t hit by another vehicle passing by me on the slippery road.  Failure to reach that small spot of snow on the roof of my vehicle put my life and many others at risk. 


Snow sliding from the roof onto the windshield isn’t the only hazard created from not completely clearing your vehicle.  Loose snow can blow off and significantly reduce the visibility of those around you.  Ice chunks can become airborne during travel and strike others, potentially breaking windshields.  Snow and ice that falls into the roadway can cause obstacles and slippery conditions for everyone on the road.  Check out this 2014 news story from Hudson, NH- a sheet of ice flew off an SUV and struck the windshield of another car resulting in significant damage.  New Hampshire is one of about a dozen states that have laws in place requiring motorists to clear ice and snow from vehicles.  But other states, including Maine, effectively require the same from motorists with statute language such as “A person may not operate a vehicle with… material or substance on the front windshield, side wing or side or rear window that obstructs the operator’s clear view of the way or an intersecting way” (29-A MRS §2082) and 29-A MRS§2396 “prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with an unsecured load.”     


Don’t give snow and ice a free ride on your vehicle this winter, take these steps when clearing off your vehicle in the snow:

  • If possible, park in a garage or under cover when expecting snow.
  • Completely clear all snow and ice.
  • Give your vehicle time to warm up and defrost/defog windows.Check the windshield wipers to ensure they are not frozen in place.
  • Take a few steps away from your vehicle so you can see the roof well enough to make sure you have cleared all snow and ice.
  • Equip your vehicle with the proper snow removal tools, taller vehicles might require telescoping tools.
  • On longer drives, pull over at rest stops or other safe places to check for snow and ice buildups on your vehicle.


For more winter driving tips, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  MEMIC Policyholders can refer to MEMIC’s very own Safety Director for resources that will help make your workplace safer for all employees.


By Arielle Karageorge