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Editorial: Snow removal law is admirable, but not enforceable

Editorial: Snow removal law is admirable, but not enforceable

Even the best-crafted law of this nature would be almost impossible to enforce.
Editorial: Snow removal law is admirable, but not enforceable

Yes, snow flying off cars is a menace to your fellow motorists, and it's potentially dangerous.

And yes, you should always clear snow off your vehicle when you can. You can pick up a snow brush for a buck at the dollar store, and wiping snow off your vehicle will delay your journey all of two minutes.

But does New York state really need to add to its mountain of regulations with an overreaching, subjective and questionably enforceable new law requiring motorists to clear their cars of snow before they venture out?

One new bill (S4179), proposed by Brooklyn Sen. Martin Dilan, would require motorists to clean off snow, sleet and hail accumulations of more than 3 inches within three hours of the "cessation of the falling thereof" (the end of the storm).

For non-commercial drivers, the fi nes would range from $150-$850. Commercial drivers could be fi ned up anywhere from $450-$1,250.

The goal of preventing snow from fl ying off vehicles is noteworthy. But how, exactly, would the state fairly and practically enforce such a law?

Would police be required to carry around rulers to measure snow accumulations on vehicles so they could issue tickets?

Would this law only apply to people who were actually operating their motor vehicles in traffic, or could police ticket vehicles that are parked along the street or in a parking lot?

How would authorities determine the end of the storm to determine whether you've had enough time to clear the snow from your vehicle?

How many times have you been driving down the interstate and passed through areas of heavy snow, then driven into bright sunshine on the same one-hour trip? How do they know what storm to start the timeline against?

And while it might be relatively easy for the operator of a small passenger vehicle to sweep a few inches of snow off his roof, how much of a burden would this law be on the operators of larger vehicles such as delivery vans, moving trucks and tractor-trailers?

They're the ones responsible for the really big sheets of snow and ice flying off into traffic, but it's pretty difficult for drivers to get up there to clean the snow and ice off.

Besides, a one-inch accumulation of ice on a tractor-trailer flying off in a giant sheet is likely to be far more dangerous to fellow motorists than three inches of snow blowing off. Yet the law doesn't cover that.

What would police do if someone claims snow from the vehicle caused him to crash? Would they have to track down the snow-covered vehicle, now long gone.

And how could they prove it was the correct vehicle and that it had the requisite three inches of snow at the time of the accident?

Are you seeing where this is going? Even the best-crafted law of this nature would be almost impossible to enforce. And what good is a law if you can't enforce it?

The state could engage in a public service educational campaign to remind drivers to clean off their cars. Maybe when a police officer sees a car with heavily accumulated snow, and he's got nothing better to do, he could give a friendly reminder to the driver.

Maybe the state could use those electronic signs along the highway to send a reminder like "Vehicle snow has to go."

Or you know those $9 million “I Love New York” signs the state has polluted the highways with that the feds want them to take down? Maybe the state could get a pass from Uncle Sam by painting them over with messages reminding drivers about clearing snow from their cars.

If the government wants to crack down on dangerous stuff flying off of vehicles, they should really make a greater effort to stop people from carrying poorly secured items on their roofs and in the back of their pickup trucks and trailers, items like mattresses and furniture.

They present at least an equally dangerous situation as flying snow, and such incidents are more common and not restricted to one season.

To protect yourself from flying snow and ice, watch the road in front of you. If a car or truck ahead is piled with snow, back off a bit or change lanes to avoid a blow-back.

You don't want to be responsible for causing an accident because you were too lazy or rushed to clear a little snow off your car. So do it.

But to make not doing it against the law? Let's not.

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