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New New Jersey Snow and Ice Law: Clear Your Car Before You Drive

After a snowstorm, are you one of those people that hops into your car, turns on the windshield wipers, and rolls down the front windows to quickly knock just enough snow off to get on the road? After all, why bother cleaning snow from the hood, roof, and trunk when it's just going to blow off once you get up to highway speed anyway, right?

Well, if you live in New Jersey, you might want to take the time to get rid of that extra snow clinging to your vehicle. Effective October 20, 2010, motorists in New Jersey are required to clear all snow and ice from their vehicles before driving. The reason? That snow and ice that neatly blows off your car when you're doing 55 mph can strike another vehicle or impair its driver's vision, causing an accident.

Stricter Than Previous Law

Previously, New Jersey drivers would receive a ticket only if the snow or ice accumulation from their vehicles caused property damage or injury when it struck. With the new law, it appears that your local policeman can pull you over and give you a citation just for tooling down Main Street at 15 mph with an inch of snow on your hood, whether or not it hits anything or anyone. Fines range from $25 to $75 if no damage or injury is caused to $200 to $1000 if there is damage or injury.

Commercial Vehicles

Commercial motor vehicles are subject to even higher fines. If you have ever been behind a tractor-trailer when an inch of snow and ice blew off its roof, you're sure to understand why. Operators of commercial vehicles can be fined between $500 and $1000 for violations of the newly amended law.

Making Roads Safer

Representatives of the New Jersey Division of Highway Safety noted that snow and ice left on a vehicle are more than just an annoyance for other drivers. "Snow and ice left on a vehicle, in particular on the hood, windows, and roof, can become a deadly projectile, creating a hazard for everyone on the road. The few moments it takes to clear snow and ice from your vehicle could prevent a crash or save a life." In light of the newly amended law, it may also save you from a hefty fine.