Another terrible snow storm brings another freezing morning of cleaning the ice and snow from the car before getting on the road. We know that it is the safe thing to do, but is it illegal to drive my car in Ohio if I don’t?
Some states, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have laws on the books that require motorists to remove all snow and ice on their cars before getting on the road. If they don’t, and the ice or snow hit another vehicle or pedestrian, their drivers face hefty fines.
Connecticut’s “Ice Missile” law took effect this year for commercial vehicles, and requires drivers to clear ice and snow before driving, even off the tops of semi trucks. This new law has proved quite a money maker for the state, but was put in place to prevent the dangerous ice blocks that can fly from the tops of commercial vehicles and cause serious damage to other drivers.
Here in Ohio, there is no law that requires drivers to clean their cars of ice and snow. However, the law does provide that people shall not drive a vehicle with anything non-transparent on the windshield and windows. This would presumably include snow and ice that impairs a driver’s visibility. Furthermore, Ohio law prohibits “unsafe” vehicles from the roadway and this would certainly apply to some of the snow and ice laden cars and trucks on the road today.
The issue becomes further complicated if snow or ice thrown from a vehicle causes an accident between other vehicles. Injury victims can hold such vehicle driver accountable for negligence in failing to clean their cars, if such failure caused the victim’s crash.
So, cleaning the ice and snow completely from your vehicle is not only a safe and courteous thing to do, but can protect you from unnecessary fines from law enforcement or worse.
Thankfully, Spring really is around the corner. But until then, let’s do all we can to keep ourselves and our fellow drivers safe out there.