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Snow job

Now that Labor Day has passed, it's time in New England to start thinking about the upcoming winter. And in addition to worrying about what the soaring fuel prices will do to heating bills, it's also time to start making plans to deal with the wonderful outdoor sport known as "driving in winter."

One of my pet peeves are the incredibly lazy, stupid morons who, when confronted with a snow-covered car, just swipe a view-slit clear on their windshield, hop in, and drive off. They leave their rear windows blocked, their headlights covered, and sometimes even don't touch their side windows.

The Massachusetts legislature is looking at the problem, and as usual, they're looking at it as a possible way to get more money: they're considering a bill to charge people who don't fully clear off their cars a $500 fine.

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of partially agreeing with the Massachusetts legislature. While normally I have no problems with people endangering themselves -- I oppose motorcycle helmet laws and seat belt laws for adults, for example -- in this case, they're creating hazards for for other drivers as well.

I've been behind SUVs with snow piled on their roofs that suddenly catches the wind, and a huge block of snow and ice goes flipping up into the air, barely missing me. And once I was driving a vehicle and failed to clear off the roof. I stomped on the brakes, and a huge sheet of snow slid forward and completely buried the windshield in about six inches of snow -- well beyond the ability of the wipers to clear. I had to climb out of the car in the middle of the street and sweep it clear before I could drive onwards. So a law mandating the clearing off of all snow from the roof, windows, hood, and lights strikes me as one of those things that should have been too obvious for most people to require a law, but apparently it does.

So I think this is a good idea. But I dunno if $500.00 is an appropriate fine. I think a first offense should be about half that -- or less. Repeated offenses would merit a ratcheting up in costs, but first offenses shouldn't merit half a grand.

Unless, you're Massachusetts, and look at EVERYTHING as an opportunity for the state to extract more money from the people.


Comments (19)

It sounds like they want to... (Below threshold)

It sounds like they want to stop it, not use it increase revenue. If the fine was $50 instead of $500 there'd be a lot more repeat offenders, that $500 price means that some might even learn from the mistakes of others, a very rare thing these days. If someone doesn't clean their windows and causes damage to your car or you $500 would probably seem like they got off cheap.

Shame on you for not cleari... (Below threshold)

Shame on you for not clearing your roof! (But I'm glad you have come around to your senses....)

And I agree with Bullwinkle, and you for that matter, this is a serious offense and should not require legislation to prevent it. But for those who are too dense (and lazy) to recognize the dangers, a stiff fine is appropriate.

In fact, I would support a "fine" of the offender losing his/her license.
Driving is a priviledge, not a right!
My wife drives my kids around in the snow sometimes and the last thing I want is a phone call from the State Police...

Actually, driving is a righ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Actually, driving is a right. Bureaucrats have somehow managed to take over. Do you really believe that a driver's license and a license plate make you any safer on the roads? Perhaps have a look at the fatality rates...

Anyhow, I heard on the local a.m. news that this violation can also carry up to 6 months in jail!

I must have missed driving ... (Below threshold)

I must have missed driving in the Bill of Rights. So did every judge who ever revoked a license and every state that required a test to get one.

I dunno, whats a wreckless ... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

I dunno, whats a wreckless driving fine in Mass.? Should an incident of neglect be more serious than an incident of intention, like, say cutting donuts on the highway? Is driving around with snow on your car more dangerous than a general wreckless driving incident, an incident which is usually purposeful, while neglecting to remove snow is not (presumably)?

Couldn't this perhaps be put under another existing moving violation that already exists? Might another violation already exist that could be extended to cover this? I personally think we get 'lawed' to death sometimes, but then I don't live in an area covered in snow half the year either, so I might not see all the angles here.

I have to agree with Bullwi... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I have to agree with Bullwinkle. People tend to look at laws such as this by the amount of the fine. A lower fine means it is a less-important law. Whn people know that they will pay a serious price for an offense, they tend to pay more attention.

Living on the sunny Gulf co... (Below threshold)

Living on the sunny Gulf coast of Texas I don't have to worry about snow when I'm driving, but I lived in Michigan for 5 years and well remember driving in it then. I can see how a law like this may be needed, but I think it's a shame common sense has to be legislated.

P.S.
I saw it mentioned somewhere the other day that Boston is now the most expensive metropolitan area in the country, outpacing Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and even New York City.

I agree 100% with Bullwinkl... (Below threshold)
LCVRWC:

I agree 100% with Bullwinkle. I've been behind dumbasses when uncleared snow from their roof has smacked into my windshield, and I've read of ice flying off and breaking windshields, causing serious accidents.

The only problem with the law is that if it's not enforced it's useless--just a feel-good thing for the legislators to add to their resumé come election time.

As a example, every now and then the cops in D.C. enforce the jaywalking laws and hand out $5 tickets for about two weeks. After that I'm back to jaywalking again (hey, I jaywalk in front of cops in their cruisers once a week, at least!). In LA, however, the jaywalking law is enforced constantly, and the $70+ fines (my brother has gotten them) make people think twice about crossing against the light. The combination of high fines and enforcement are the secret to keeping those who feel the rules do not apply to them in line.

"I must have missed driving... (Below threshold)

"I must have missed driving in the Bill of Rights." Posted by: bullwinkle

Really? I thought it was rather obvious:

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

What I hate is getting snow... (Below threshold)
Jay:

What I hate is getting snow/ice flying off the top of tractor-trailers or other trucks. However, I also see the difficulty in making sure they're all cleared.

I usually clear my car completely, even the van. Snow brooms are a wonderful thing.

Yep, gettin' to be that t... (Below threshold)
mark m:

Yep, gettin' to be that time in Michigan too. Yesterday, it was 88 degrees........

I agree with the fine though. That can be very dangerous.

Amendment IXThe e... (Below threshold)

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And if this were federal legislation that might be relevant. The federal government doesn't issue garden-variety driver's licenses.

Scott R. Keszler:T... (Below threshold)

Scott R. Keszler:

Thanks for bringing that out. In one swipe, you've declared unconstitutional motorcycle helmet laws, seat belt laws, speed limit laws, mandatory insurance laws, emissions control laws, registration laws, road use taxes, tag laws, window tint laws, and a multitude of other regulations, just in the area of transportation!

No, driving isn't a constitutional right. It does pose public concerns, and while some laws (helmets, seatbelts, window tint, etc.,) are treading heavily upon personal liberties, where there is a genuine concern of safety to others, laws regulating driving are rightly passed and enforced.

I do concur with Diane. It's a shame to have to pass a law to impose common sense.

McGehee:bullwinkle... (Below threshold)

McGehee:

bullwinkle said: "I must have missed driving in the Bill of Rights." That's what I was addressing.

The notion that a right doesn't exist because it isn't enumerated in the Constitution is completly backwards - the Constitution doesn't dispense rights, it puts restrictions on the powers of the government.

One of my pe... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

One of my pet peeves are the incredibly lazy, stupid morons who, when confronted with a snow-covered car, just swipe a view-slit clear on their windshield, hop in, and drive off. They leave their rear windows blocked, their headlights covered, and sometimes even don't touch their side windows.

What cured me of this was the time that I and the fellow across the street mutually rear-ended each other because we had both done this at the same time.

Check out CT, they passed a... (Below threshold)

Check out CT, they passed a law to this effect a couple of years back when I was living there, right after ice flew off a truck and caused a serious accident or a death or something, if I remember correctly. I don't know about making money off it, though, I think it was mostly used by the cops as an excuse to pull people over and make them clean their car off, that happened to someone I worked with shortly after the law went into effect...got pulled over and the cop made him clean his car off then let him go. It'a all in the enforcement I guess.

No Driving is NOT a right. ... (Below threshold)

No Driving is NOT a right. It is a privledge.

However, no discrimination can be used in denying people that privilidge, that is apparently where you're getting your idiocy. Again, if you claim it is a right, then why do we have seat belt laws? Why do we have driver's
licenses? Why can people have their license revoked. Or how come people who have had their licenses revoked never been brought before the supreme court in a case that apparently is in the constitution?

This is just stupid. Once a... (Below threshold)

This is just stupid. Once again we have a specific circumstance & the lawyers have write a law. Isn't there a law already on the books about driving a vehicle that you can't properly see out of? What if all my windows are broken & I use black garbage bags for windows? Will they write a law saying I can't use black garbage bags?

OK, I'll use white garbage bags. When they write a law for that, I'll use cardboard. When they outlaw that, I'll use plywood. WHen they outlaw that, I'll use old campaign signs. DAMN when will it end?

Just write a frigging law that states a driver must be able to have a clear view through all windows or be able to use his mirrors. Headlights & taillights have to be functioning & viewable. There that does it. If you haven't had a law like that already, clear out the legislature & get some folks with common sense in there.

DAMN, I say, DAMN!!!!

Uh... How do you know such... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Uh... How do you know such a law doesn't already exist?

After all, this law (from what I understand) is designed to also cover folks who don't clear off their roof, something that previous "you must have at least x% of your windows uncovered and with window tinting of no more than x%" laws wouldn't have covered.

Not sure why it's stupid to pass a law restricting activities which weren't covered under the previous one and which have been creating injuries or deaths from flying snow and ice.




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