What Do New York Laws Say About Driving with Snow On Your Car?
I could hardly see through the winter weather as I drove to work the other day. The problem was, it wasn't snowing.
It had, however, snowed the night before, and I was stuck behind a driver that had decided that cleaning off their SUV was too much of a chore to tackle before hurdling down 9W. Between muttered curses, I thought what most of us think when we're we're forced to follow a mobile snow machine: "there's got to be a law against this". Unfortunately when I read the actual law, I was dumbfounded.
Growing up in Ulster County, car-shoveling was a right of passage for a young driver. The roof of my parents' Camry showed the scars of metal-edged shovels as I learned the best clearing and brushing techniques to make it road-worthy before heading school. It was a life-skill that I carried into adulthood, but apparently not all of us received the lesson. I should also consider myself lucky. Yes, it was nearly impossible to see the road, but at least I didn't have to dodge ice missiles.
As you can see from the video, it doesn't take a lot of snow to make a ton of damage. That's what's most surprising about the New York laws regarding leaving snow and ice on your car when you hit the road. According to Senate Bill S395A:
No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while there is an accumulation of snow, sleet, or hail on the roof or cargo bed surfaces... in excess of three inches.
Three inches! The SUV in front of me was creating too much of a blizzard to tell how deep the white stuff was on their roof, but by again using the above video as evidence, a much thinner sheet can not only crack or smash a windshield, but to also cause an accident.
So, how about a scout's honor agreement? Let's not live by the letter of the law. Everyone raise their right hand and solemnly swear: "when snow falls, near or far, I do promise to clear my car".