RICHMOND, Va. -- Safety groups are warning drivers to make sure they clear snow and ice off their vehicles before driving on Virginia roadways, and one state lawmaker has proposed a law that would fine drivers who fail to do so.
HB 207, introduced by delegate Mike Mullin from Newport News, would allow police to write a $100 ticket if a person drives a vehicle "with any amount of accumulated snow or ice on its exposed surfaces where, were the snow or ice to become dislodged from such vehicle, such accumulated snow or ice could interfere with the operation of another motor vehicle or cause injury to persons or property."
"Every person I've spoken to said, 'thought this was the law already,'" Mullin said. "It's what they teach you when you go and get your license to begin with. It's what VDOT and DMV recommend. This is something that is just common sense."
A personal experience on Interstate 64 during the first snow this winter led Mullin to file the legislation.
"I had a car in front of me didn't clear off the top of the car at all, didn't clear off the back, and when it all came off in a big sheet, it darn near killed me," Mullin said.
Several northern states, like Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maine, have laws that fine drivers for not clearing snow off their vehicles, according to multiple reports. In Virginia, cases of body damage done to vehicles by sleets of ice flying off other vehicle have been reported. In other states, snow and ice flung from vehicles have resulted in traffic fatalities.
"I've been behind trucks where ice will fly off the back. I mean it's pretty dangerous. I've seen it in the past couple of week here," said Erin Burlew, who lives in Richmond's Fan District.
"I get annoyed when I see people driving around with maybe the front and the back cleaned, but the sides not. That just makes me kind of crazy," said Cindy Pauls, who lives in Richmond.
Mullins said if his legislation passes, he expects police officers would make "common sense" decisions about whether to write a ticket or not. Mullins said you never really know what can happen to a bill at the General Assembly, but said he expects lawmakers to approve the measure.