Editorial: Snow-blind drivers
Everyone in Rhode Island knows the feeling. You wake up in the morning to a sea of white outside your window. You lace up the boots, dreading the task of digging out of the driveway, knowing you’re going to be sitting in worse traffic than usual, threatening to make you late for work.
After clearing the heavy plowed stuff, you’re crushed for time. So you wipe off the windshield and hop behind the wheel to beat as much of the morning rush as possible.
Yes, it is tempting to avoid yet another chore of clearing off the roof, trunk and back bumper, and do nothing but brush off the windows when you’re already running late. After all, as long as you can see, what’s the problem?
The problem is nobody behind you can see.
It happens every winter — and this week’s snowstorm was no exception. Those who are inconsiderate — or oblivious — enough to drive their cars down the road covered in snow lay a smoke screen for anyone unfortunate enough to be traveling behind them.
As if limiting a driver’s visibility isn’t dangerous enough, failing to clear the roof presents an even more dangerous — potentially deadly — risk. As the morning sun starts to warm the snow and ice atop your car, you turn onto 95 and hit the gas. Suddenly, a large chunk of ice is thrown into the air, smashing through the windshield of the car behind you. At best, you’re causing damage you will be liable for. At worst, you’re killing someone.
Failing to clear snow and ice from your car is more than rude; it’s illegal. Many fail to realize Rhode Island law requires all vehicles to be completely free of accumulated snow and ice. That includes large SUVs, vans and trucks. The inability to reach the roof is no excuse. That’s what telescoping snow brushes or even brooms are for. If you can’t handle your vehicle, you shouldn’t be driving it. Failure to clear the car is punishable by an $85 fine. But it isn’t fear of a ticket that should prompt you to completely clear your car of snow. It is basic human decency.
So the next time the flakes fly — even if only a half-inch falls — do not leave the driveway until the car is clean. The driver behind you who you didn’t kill will thank you.