What’s an ice scraper for? A snow brush?

Or, for that matter, why can’t I just wipe clean a tiny bit of the windshield?

As I write this, autumn is no more. We’re past the solstice, and the days will only get longer for the next six months. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been waiting for this since about mid-November. And yet, it’s now officially winter. Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. Our revels now are ended. We’ve had a couple storms at this point, one of which featured enough snow to let loose the plows. I can picture someone at the DOT, channeling his inner Shakespeare, gleefully calling out “cry havoc!” as the hordes of snow clearing trucks headed out that first night.

Anyway… with the coming of Jack Frost in earnest, please remember to diligently clear the snow and ice off your ride before you hit the road. The surrounding states may do things differently, but here in the Granite State, we have “Jessica’s Law”. The short story is that Jessica was a 20 year old woman who was killed because a truck that wasn’t sufficiently cleaned of snow and ice caused a crash that took her life. (NB: Florida has a different “Jessica’s Law” covering a very, very different offense.)

The short of New Hampshire’s law is the cops can pull you over for having ice and snow on the roof, windows not sufficiently cleared, and whatnot. It’s a fairly open-ended law: if you drive negligently, or in a way that endangers (or could endanger) others, you’re fair game. Besides the fact that the fines can be a substantial amount of coin, getting pulled over for something that could have been solved by less than five minutes with a scraper and a brush… that’s downright silly. Heck, if the muscle is too much, sit in your car with the defroster on, check social media, and maybe watch something on YouTube for a few minutes. At that point, brushing off the snow and ice will become trivial.

Besides the fact that the laws of the state say you should, there’s also the laws of physics, and those certainly can’t be broken. Not even bent. You can’t see through ice and snow on the windshield — photons don’t work that way. Inertia (coupled with Murphy’s law) says that if you lose traction and are headed toward a ditch, hilarity will indeed ensue. Clearing off your car gives you the best chance of seeing that patch of ice on the road long before you get there. Anyone who’s ever driven in New Hampshire knows the roads aren’t always in the best shape once the flakes fly. Stack the deck in your favor by taking a quick few moments.

I won’t make promises about Washington, but I can pretty much guarantee that everywhere else in the Whites, we’ll be long since over and done with the snow by the first of summer. Anything that does fall on the old rock pile will be an entertaining novelty.

For those who are interested, the relevant law is RSA 265:79b. The definition of negligence (referenced in the law) basically boils down to “if an average person should have known better” and I think at this point, an average person knows to clear the snow and ice off the car, such that you’re not creating a hazard to everyone else. It’s a topic that usually gets mentioned by the media every wintertime. Even without that, who amongst us, having seen a sheet of ice fly off a vehicle (sometimes crashing down on our own car moments later) and not said “they should make a law!” Well, yep, they did indeed do just that.

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