Winter in Michigan sparks a plethora of interesting human behavior – people driving like they’ve never seen snow before, bundling up like you’re about to trek to the North Pole, and impatient people who decide that despite the two feet of snow covering their entire car, wipe off a mitten-sized spot in front of their steering wheel and hit the road.
Most of us find it annoying to have to stand out in the cold, scraping ice and snow off the car with whatever we find handy. For most of us, there is a 50/50 chance that we will remember to toss the snow scraper in the back seat or trunk after Halloween.
Did you know, however, that if you fail to adequately remove the snow from your car before you start to drive, that you can be ticketed? Michigan law, specifically 257.677a, reads: “(2) A person shall not remove, or cause to be removed, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle other than off-road vehicles. (3) A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle. (4) A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.”
Michigan laws dealing with the ability to see your headlights, taillights and driver visibility also come in to play with respect to cleaning off your car. If you do not clear off the mountain of snow, people are less likely to see your lights, and your headlights are less effective. Other than some historical cars, you need to have a “device” (aka windshield wipers) for cleaning snow off of your windshield as well. Snow can easily slide off of your car, covering your rear windshield while you are driving. The snow can fly off of your vehicle and significantly obstruct other drivers’ visibility, as well as causing erratic driving and swerving to avoid the hit.
So if you start throwing snow off of your car while driving down I94, smacking other drivers; or my personal favorite – the entire sheet of ice and snow that flies at you like a UFO – you are violating the law. And Santa is watching very carefully this time of year.