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Editor’s View: If snow falls, clear your vehicle before you drive

According to area forecasters, last month’s snowfall was the first measurable amount in a few years. And although the sun is shining in a bright blue sky at this moment, it is predicted temperatures will soon be falling and skies will be turning gray and even white.

During the recent snow, I took notice of countless cars covered in snow while traveling the roadways. Before the Valley sees a new storm, it might be worthwhile to be reminded that it’s against the law to drive a vehicle in this condition.

Pennsylvania drivers are legally required to clear their cars of snow and ice before heading out.

This law was proposed by state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18th, in 2022, named “Christine’s Law” in honor of Christine Lambert, of Palmer Township, Northampton County, who died Christmas Day in 2005 when a piece of ice from a passing vehicle came loose and crashed through her windshield.

The law was signed by then-Gov. Tom Wolf in 2022. It states drivers must make “reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from the motor vehicle or motor carrier vehicle, including the hood, trunk and roof of the motor vehicle or motor carrier vehicle, within 24 hours after the cessation of the falling snow or ice.”

Drivers who fail to obey this law face a fine “of not less than $200 nor more than $1,500 for each offense.”

That’s a hefty bill just to avoid a little work with your snow brush and ice scraper. Taking some extra time to clear your car before getting behind the wheel not only protects the contents of your wallet, but also protects those drivers and passengers traveling the same roadways.

Christine’s Law also gives police officers discretion to pull over a vehicle with snow or ice accumulation, with the goal of reducing the risk of a hazard.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, winter storms and bad weather are a factor in nearly half a million crashes - and 2,000 deaths - each winter. About 46% of crashes take place in the winter.

“The accumulation of snow and ice on your vehicle raises a number of safety concerns,” the foundation continued. “It reduces visibility to the driver, and it risks being dislodged during transit. If it is dislodged, it could cause property damage to other vehicles and even injure other motorists or pedestrians.

“Additionally, nearby drivers may be blinded by light snow blowing off your vehicle,” per the AAA report.

So, even a little snow left on your vehicle can cause a lot of problems.

If you’re still not convinced of the worthwhile effort to clean off your car, take a moment to put yourself on the other side of this issue. Try to recall a time when you were driving behind someone whose vehicle sent snow flying at you. It’s challenging to drive that way. It might have made you nervous, even angry. Add heavier amounts of snow and ice chunks being dropped in your path, and it’s downright dangerous.

We have nearly six more weeks until the calendar shows spring. There’s plenty of opportunity for additional measurable snow. This area has even experienced some precipitation early in that new season.

Last week, Punxsatawny Phil failed to see his shadow, indicating an early spring. Truth is, reportedly, his prediction has been correct just 30% of the time.

Fingers crossed, this is the groundhog’s year to get it right. But, just in case, keep your snow-shoveling gear handy, so you can hit the road safely and legally.

Kelly Lutterschmidt


Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press