Articles

Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents: Removing Snow and Ice on Vehicles, The Duty is Yours

By: Attorney Michael J. Paragano

New Jersey has been hit pretty hard with snow and ice this winter. We are a little more than 1/4 of the way through the official start and end dates of winter and the state has been blanketed. Snow and ice are nothing new to the residents of the garden state, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.

Besides the risk of snow related accidents such as slip and falls on poorly plowed or shoveled walkways, the weather poses dangerous conditions on the roadways as well. These conditions include snow and ice that accumulates on the body of moving vehicles. In New Jersey, the removal of snow and ice from vehicles is the responsible of each driver.

Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-77.1(a)(1),

“Each driver of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this State shall have an affirmative duty to make all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from exposed surfaces of the motor vehicle prior to operation, which surfaces shall include, but not limited to, the hood, trunk, windshield, windows, and roof of the motor vehicle, the cab of a truck, the top of a trailer or semitrailer being drawn by a motor vehicle, and the top of an intermodal freight container being carried by an intermodal chassis.” (Emphasis added).

Under the statute, any driver who fails to remove accumulated ice or snow may be stopped by law enforcement, if the officer believes the snow or ice poses a threat to other drivers on the road. The driver can be given a fine of $25 to $75 for the offense, regardless of whether the snow or ice actually became dislodged from the vehicle at anytime. However, there is a much greater fine if the snow or ice does become dislodged and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian and causes injury.

Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-77.1(b),

“When snow or ice is dislodged from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing injury or property damage….the operator of a non-commercial motor vehicle shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000 for each offense.”

Aside from the obvious monetary losses that can come when snow or ice is not properly removed from a vehicle, there are greater concerns that can arise. When roads are ice or snow covered, drivers are already at risk for motor vehicle accidents and injuries. When you add onto that risk with the possibility of snow or ice flying from the vehicles driving on the road, you can be in for a real mess.

Therefore as a driver on the roadways in this state, you must comply with your duty to remove ice and snow from your vehicle before getting on the road so that you are not putting other vehicles on the road at risk. Winter is bad enough, there’s no excuse for making it worse.

Learn more about Motor Vehicle Accidents.

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