State lawmakers must be really bored, if one of their activities during the current legislative session is creating laws that are apparently already in existence.
Four bills pending in the Legislature would impose fines of $75-$1,250 on drivers who don’t clear snow from their vehicles. The bill sponsors' concern is that snow and ice blowing off vehicles can obstruct the views of other drivers, cause damage to other cars, contribute to accidents, and obscure the view of the drivers of said snow-covered vehicles. It’s certainly a concern in upstate New York.
The problem is, what they want to make illegal apparently is already illegal.
Section 1219 of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law, states:
(a) No person shall throw or deposit upon any highway any glass bottle, glass, nails, tacks, wire, cans, snow or any other substance likely to injure any person, animal, or vehicle upon such highway;
You can’t deposit snow on the road. Wouldn’t that logically cover snow being deposited on the road from a car? How about a dump truck or tractor-trailer?
With regard to a driver not being able to see because of snow on his vehicle, existing law appears to have that covered, too. Section 1213 says: (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle when it is so loaded ... as to obstruct the view of the driver.”
If snow is blocking a driver’s view of the road, wouldn’t that be a violation?
If lawmakers feel the need to add a clause to each section to clarify “snow from a moving vehicle,” do it and be done with it. No extra legislation needed.
Aside from being repetitive, the snow removal laws might not be as effective as lawmakers would hope. For instance, how are you going to prove the snow came from one specific vehicle on a road full of snow-covered vehicles? How are truckers traveling long distances in heavy snow supposed to keep the tops of their trailers clear enough all the time? Will a motorist complaint result in a ticket or does the flying snow have to cause an accident?
Another point: If you see snow blowing off a car or truck, don't you have a responsibility to stay far enough back so it doesn't affect you or others? How many problems with flying snow and ice could be avoided with less tailgating?
Maybe instead of a repetitive new law, state lawmakers should set aside money for an educational campaign. How about: "Before you go, remove the snow.” The I Love NY people could design a splashy logo.
We each have a responsibility to make the driving experience as safe as possible, for ourselves and the people with whom we share the road. So when there's snow on your car, take a minute to clear it off.
As for all you bored legislators, instead of duplicating laws that already exist, maybe use your time more effectively.
How's that ethics legislation coming?