By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
We have received varying amounts of snow in recent weeks. The bitterly cold weather makes it difficult for the snow to melt in any rapid fashion. With this in mind, it is extremely important to remove excess snow from the roof tops of your vehicles. This topic is always brought up to me at this time of the year, and I wanted to remind people of the importance of taking this one additional safety step.
The laws are rather vague on exactly whether removing snow from a vehicle’s roof is required. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 13 is the law which addresses “impeded” operation. Drivers are not allowed to have anything on or about their vehicle which may interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle. This can directly pertain to the removal of snow an ice from windshields. However; even though it is not specifically stated in this law, there may be circumstances where it may apply to snow on vehicle hoods, roof tops, or trunks. Decisions on this will be made on a case by case basis.
The danger lies in not removing this snow in a prompt manner. If it is left in place, it has a tendency to melt and re-freeze which creates an ice sheet. When traveling at higher speeds, such as on a highway, the wind can move under this ice and send it flying off the vehicle. It could then land on or around another vehicle traveling along the road.
The results of this can be very serious. Despite the damage this may cause to another vehicle, it could have even greater consequences should this land on another vehicle’s windshield. The driver may not be able to see and this could result in an accident. If there is an accident involved, the fact that the snow/ice was not removed prior to the trip could be considered as a negligent act on the part of that driver. Therefore, this person may bear some responsibility for the accident. Please take a few extra minutes to completely remove the snow from your vehicle. This simple could prevent and accident and possibly save a life.