Snow Safety: Clearing the Snow Off Your Vehicle
Driving with mounds of snow on your vehicle isn't just bad etiquette. See why it's important to brush off your car before you take off.
Winter always seems to arrive before we’re ready for it, and staying safe on the road is enough of a challenge when you’re getting used to the darker evenings. Winter weather brings even more perils — black ice, low visibility, and heaps of snow.
No one enjoys being out in the cold in the early hours of the morning scraping their car. You may be tempted to jump in your car, blast the heat, and hope everything melts before you get on the highway — and hey, what’s the harm in a little extra snow flying around? Everyone seems to be covered in it anyway.
The thing is, leaving mounds of untouched snow on your vehicle isn’t just bad etiquette; it’s awfully unsafe, and illegal to boot. Here’s why it’s worth putting on your warmest gloves, and brushing off your car before heading out.
Snow on your car is dangerous for you, and other drivers
Your windshield spans the width of your car for a reason, and brushing off a tiny spot to desperately peer out of won’t cut it when it comes to being safe on the road. You need to be able to see out of your front and rear windshield, and all four windows. And don’t forget to clean off your side-view mirrors — you’d be surprised how often people forget about this!
Once you’ve successfully cleared the snow and scraped the ice off of your car, give the top a brush. This is another place many people forget, but it’s very important. The snow on your roof can slide right back onto your rear windshield once you start driving, undoing all the work you did to clear it, making it impossible to see. You never want to be caught in this situation on a busy highway.
If that doesn’t happen, there’s a good chance it’ll blow onto the unlucky vehicle behind you, which is unfair (and incredibly unsafe) for the other car.
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You don’t want to get pulled over
You may think you can make it by with partially covered windows while your car warms up to melt the rest, but it’s not worth the safety risk — or the fine. In Ontario, you can face a $110 fine under the Highway Traffic Act for driving a snow-impaired vehicle. Of course, the penalty can vary depending on where you live. But even if there aren’t any laws in your area about brushing your vehicle off, you can still be fined.
Take, for example, the case of a Winnipeg man who was pulled over for having too much snow on his van, even though there’s no official law against it in the province. He was pulled over and ticketed $237.50 for an unsecured load — that ‘load’ was the 7-10 centimetres of snow on his van.
It’s another chore that comes with the season, but just like all other chores, brushing the snow off your car has to be done.