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Is Winter Courtesy So Hard?

Looks like we're in for nasty weather. It's not a major storm, but some of you may see an inch of snow on Tuesday. (See Capital Weather Gang.)

windshield (2).jpg Damage done when packed snow slid off roof of van in next lane. (Photo courtesy of Karen Henry)

I've received several letters since last week's snow and ice storm noting a widespread inability to remove percipitation from anything other than the front windshield.

Here's a perfect example of the dangers, along with the illustration the letter writer submitted.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
My husband, father-in-law and twin 3-year-olds were driving south on Interstate 95 on their way home after spending a nice morning at the Baltimore B&O Railroad Museum, when a large chunk of ice-packed snow blew off of a minivan roof from the next lane over.

My husband knew he couldn't swerve right or left for fear of hitting another car, and so slowed down, in the hopes that the ice would land in front of our car, or perhaps just on the front hood. It didn't. It hit with full force on the windshield.

Everyone is okay. Thankfully. But my family's lives were put in jeopardy by someone who didn't take the time to clean off their car properly. Someone being lazy.

It snowed on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. This happened on Saturday, around 1 p.m. Plenty of time for someone to finish the job of clearing the snow from their car.

I am proud of my husband's quick reflexes and his ability to get to the side of the road without any further incident. I am mortified that the driver of the minivan didn't even slow down. I can only hope he didn't notice the huge scraping sound as the ice came off his roof. I am eternally grateful for the invention of safety glass.

This is a dangerous and potentially deadly situation that is easily solved by being mindful of others on the road, and taking just a few extra minutes of time.
Karen Henry
Fairfax City

We gripe when the government can't get the snow and ice off the roadways. Why is it so hard for us to do our share and clear off our vehicles?

By Robert Thomson  |  February 2, 2009; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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My husband inherited my Jeep for winter use - I was going to trade it in when I bought a new car, but since he drove a Miata, I thought the better of it.

I was always on his case for not clearing off the roof. He used to whine that it was a pain in the butt because it was so tall. I pointed out I'm 3 inches shorter, owned the car for 9 years before he started driving it in the snow, and I *always* cleaned it off for this exact reason. Because as tall as my Jeep was, most SUV's were actually taller, as were most minivans, and I hated it when their snow landed on my hood. And really, it's not like it snows *that* often in DC!

Glad Ms. Hulick's family is okay - that sounds scary and her husband is to be commended for his steady nerves.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | February 3, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree that everyone should completely clear their vehicles.

Another courtesy would be for all drivers to turn on their headlights during grey, wet weather. If the sky and road are grey and your car is grey, I certainly cannot see you very well. Turn on your headlights!

On some snowy/slushy grey days, the road spray is so thick that it is difficult to see other vehicles in general. Why don't drivers use their headlights for our safety and their's?

Posted by: wp112310 | February 3, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I am relieved the family is okay after that scary experience. Unfortunately, the laziness about snow removal is everywhere. I was up in New Hampshire and Massachusetts over Christmas and witnessed the same thing—SUVs and cars with inches of snow on the roof just waiting to cause damage or ruin someone’s visibility.

I would love to see police officers station themselves on highway onramps pulling people over to clear off their cars before proceeding.

Posted by: JillBC | February 3, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it is dangerous and irresponsible for drivers to hit the road without first clearing their cars of snow and ice. As someone who has been the recipient of a large chunk of ice flying off of a passing vehicle last week, I watched with interest as a Fox 5 reporter this morning mentioned that DC council member Harry Thomas is proposing an emergency car clearing bill that requires cars, trucks and buses to be clear of snow and ice before getting on the road. He points out that the city mandates that you clear your sidewalk- why should your vehicle be exempt? If a large piece of ice is coming down fast enough, it can hit your car with the same force as a brick (at least that is what it sounded like when it hit my windshield). I fully support any effort to make the roads safer. I admit I may not have always cleared my car completely in the past, but after my scary experience last week, I will make sure my car is snow and ice free before I start my drive.

Posted by: Amy11 | February 3, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I see the DC Council passed the bill "Amy11" mentions. At least one doofus is ridiculing it in the comments on WTOP's site. My own comments are there as well, so I won't repeat them again:

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 3, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I have a feeling that the people ridiculing it have never been hit with ice flying off of a car...

Posted by: Amy11 | February 4, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I dont own a car, but seriously...that one of the hazards of winter driving. Blaming the other driver for snow falling is like me cursing the sun for rising in the morning.

Do you think every person in MN cleans of every square inch of their car?

Do you know how many times I've seen sheets like this come off the top of semi I complain because the trucker didn't clean off the roof of his trailer?

Youre an idiot Ms. Henry. It was an accident. It happens. Quit complaining.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | February 4, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

AngryLiberal asked "Do you think every person in MN cleans of every square inch of their car?"

*looks out her Wisconsin-near-Minnesota window*

Um, actually, most of my neighbors have their cars cleared off, so while it's not everyone, I'm gonna say more people clear their cars off here, yeah.

You have the occasional non-clearer, but mostly, you get the slide-offs from big trucks, not personal vehicles.

Because otherwise, the snow is *REALLY* stuck to your car. We can be below freezing here for well over 4 weeks at a time - if you don't want an ice pack stuck to your car, you clear it off.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | February 4, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse


Being from MN, having lived in IA, OH, MI, and Bflo, NY - yes. Any functioning human being cleans his entire car off - front, top, lights, bumpers. It can slide off in any direction blocking your vision.

Common sense, can't believe anyone would argue that it's not important - a matter of life and death, literally.

This needs to include trucks. My life is more important than being lazy.

Posted by: bflorhodes | February 4, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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