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Clean and Clear Snow Off Your Car Before Hitting the Road: Safety Tips and Law

If one very cold Massachusetts morning after a snowfall, you decide to skip clearing the snow off your car or pickup truck’s roof or trunk before leaving for work, consider what happened to a New Hampshire small truck driver who neglected to clean off his vehicle. When the snow and ice from his box truck slid off and penetrated the windshield of the car behind him, causing severe eye injuries to the car’s motorist, the truck driver was charged with vehicular assault, reckless conduct, and negligence, not to mention a likely civil suit by the victim, the injured driver.

Car Accident From Snow

It is against the law in Massachusetts to drive a vehicle without first clearing it of snow and ice because it can strike the windshield of following vehicles, and with the entirely foreseeable consequence of smashing through the windshield of that vehicle or otherwise obscuring that driver’s vision and causing a loss of control. Although Massachusetts has no specific law outlawing this behavior, unlike New Hampshire, you can nonetheless face a fine of $50 to $200, regardless of being in an accident or not.

The lack of a specific law that imposes such a duty on motorists does not prevent a victim from retaining a car accident lawyer from pursuing compensation against those motorists who neglected to clear their vehicles of snow and ice that led to serious accidents or injuries. All motorists have a duty to exercise ordinary care when operating a motor vehicle. This generally means obeying all traffic laws like the speed limits, making safe lane changes, not running red lights or stop signs, not driving impaired or distracted, and being on the lookout for road hazards. For motorists in cold weather states like ours, exercising ordinary care is also ensuring that other drivers and their passengers are safe from flying snow and ice from their vehicle that can act like missiles when striking the windshield of a trailing vehicle. 

Tips on Clearing Snow and Ice

For novice drivers or those who have moved here from warm weather states and are not accustomed to winter driving, the following are tips on how to safely clear snow and ice from your car before driving:

  1. Take extra time to clear off your car after a snow storm. 
  2. You can use a broom to at least get the snow off your roof and sides.
  3. Be sure the tailpipe is clear of snow since carbon monoxide can build up and infiltrate the interior.
  4. After starting your car, wait a few minutes before starting the clearing off process.
  5. Clear snow from the roof, hood, and trunk lid first to give your windshield time to warm up from the defroster.
  6. Do not ignore the headlights and taillights, mirrors, and turn signals.
  7. If your wipers are not clearing snow, get new ones.
  8. Use a plastic scraper to clear the ice, or if unavailable, a plastic credit card.
  9. Be aware of fog buildup on your windshield. An air conditioner can remove the fog. Put the air on “fresh” rather than “recirculate”. 
  10. Opening a window can also reduce fog. By wiping your interior windows about once per week, you can reduce fog buildup that can be difficult to remove.

If you think that being required to remove snow and ice is another example of the “nanny state” forcing its norms and standards on freedom-loving Bay Staters, think of a 6-year-old girl from Andover, Massachsuetts, who last winter suffered life-threatening injuries when snow and ice from the roof of a tractor-trailer flew off and penetrated the window of the car she was in. As a member of our community, taking a few minutes to ensure that our neighbors and fellow motorists are safe on our roadways is not too much to ask. The same accident could very well happen to you as to anyone else. 

Damages in Car Accident Claims 

Damages in a car accident, including those sustained by ice and snow from a lead vehicle that penetrated your windshield or led to loss of control, include the following:

  • The reasonableness of the medical care and expenses
  • Future medical care and expenses
  • Past and future income losses 
  • Inability to work or to perform certain activities that you were able to before the accident
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress. 

A spouse may also have a separate claim for loss of consortium if their injured spouse has injuries that restrict or prevent them from engaging in certain activities. 

In many serious injury cases where the damages are substantial, an experienced car accident attorney is essential to ensure that you receive the most compensation available for your injuries, including exploring all possible parties that may contributed to the accident. 

Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain 

If you or a family member was injured in a car accident, you will need the services of an experienced and skilled car accident lawyer. By retaining a highly experienced car accident attorney from the law firm of Burns and Jain, you can be assured that your claim and your damages will be vigorously pursued, and all responsible parties held accountable. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free, in-depth discussion of your car accident injury case.