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Snow-capped cars irk drivers

snow tops.jpg
Drivers carry snowy tops along the Capital Beltway's outer loop in Virginia.

Airports | Amtrak | Buses | Capital Weather Gang | D.C. snow emergency | Plowing plans | Rails | Snow removal | Live traffic

While many drivers complain about what government did or failed to do during the snowstorm, plenty of people want to complain about their fellow drivers.

Here's a comment that I didn't have time to publish during Monday's online discussion.

Silver Spring, Md: Dr. Grid. You've mentioned often in the past about people not clearing the roofs of their cars and how dangerous that is. I have been shocked, almost to the point of laughing out loud, to see cars driving in front of my house with the WHOLE car cleaned off EXCEPT 30 inches of a huge pile on top of their car. I don't get it. I don't get it more than I don't get people not turning the car headlights on in rain. I WISH someone who does this regularly would chime into this chat and explains why they leave dangerous snow and ice on their roof.

I certainly thought this storm would leave car crowns so heavy that no driver could move without knocking the snow down. Turns out I was wrong. Highway drivers could watch as huge hunks of snow flew into the air from car tops and either plunged to the pavement or landed on the following car's windshield.

Visibility was tough enough without this added distraction. What other sorts of driver behavior earned your ire today?

By Robert Thomson  |  February 8, 2010; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, snowstorm  
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And adding that snow to the pavement causes new hazards by getting previously-cleared roads snowy and icy again.

Another problem: pedestrians are in the street because there are no sidewalks and cars drive by them too quickly, hitting them in the face with 6-10 foot walls of water and sludge.

Posted by: member8 | February 8, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

WHY do police not ticket for this behavior? When I lived in upstate NY, it was common to see drivers ticketed for failing to clear the entire car -- and snow-covered cars on the road were a rare site.

Posted by: sctucker | February 8, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

DC drivers are among the rudest in the nation - agressive, impatient, indifferent to pedestrians, mock at speed limits, always on cell phone, never yield to drivers who may have just a mile to change three lanes, driving without headlights in bad weather - the list goes on and on. I can understand aggressive drivers - like in New York or Chicago - they may be aggressive but generally considerate of others and always smile -- but DC drivers are just plain rude and arrogent.
I am just waiting for the day to see unmarked police cars pulling violators left and right - certainly will be a highly cost-effective source of revenue to this always cash strapped city!

Posted by: jramray | February 8, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Re leaving snow on top of cars/vans... I learned my lesson years ago when I did not scrape the top of my car. I had to suddenly brake in the middle of a busy intersection in Rosslyn, which caused the huge block of hardened snow on my roof to slide right down onto my windshield. It was very dangerous, to say the least, to have to climb out of my car and madly chip away at it while blocking four lanes of traffic.

Posted by: whitneyredding | February 8, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Last year, on 1/29, a day after a relatively light snow, I was driving north on I-95 towards Baltimore. A huge sheet of ice flew off of an 18-wheeler and slammed into the windshield of a car 30 ft in front of me. The driver lost control, went onto the shoulder, hit the guard rail and came back onto the highway. He then hit me, causing my to spin out, hit the guardrail twice and have my airbag deployed. Both me and the other driver were ok, but our cars were totaled. I feel lucky to have walked away from that experience.

It's your responsibility to clean your car off. You never know how and when that snow will fly off your car.

Posted by: gidge | February 8, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

It is not just D.C. drivers but drivers in the entire metro area who drive with no regard for anyone including their own safety when they neglect to clean the snow off their roof tops - much less not driver at all or drive slower. Even those with 4 wheel drive have the mentality that they can drive in any snow condition or at any speed with disregard of black ice or their loss of control if their is a need to stop. And oh yes, how many commentators on TV requested drivers to stay off the roads for the well being of those plowing the roads to have no interference.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | February 8, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I'd also like the boors who parked in the fire lanes and parcel pick up lines at the grocery stores today to be dealt with. Woudln't we all like to park where it's clear to park and simply walk a few unfettered feet into the store? I could not believe the sheer number of cars that were parked along the fronts of the shopping centers today. It is the fire marshall who must ticket for parking in the fire lane? If so, someone needs to tell them to get out after a snow day and be ready to make some easy money. It's easier than shooting fish in a barrel (which Mythbusters has proven is NOT easy).

Posted by: Sharon_59 | February 8, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I believe most of the drivers who do not remove the snow from the roof of their vehicles are probably only 4'11" or shorter; therefore to leave the snow on their vehicle's roof to cause harm to another driver makes him/her/them feel TALL and bad. On another thought, maybe they do not remove the snow from the top because it will probably give the vehicle more weight; therefore, the vehicle may not slide as easy on icy roads. Who knows why some inconsiderate drivers do not remove the snow from the roof of their vehicles. I wish the law would fine them BIG time. Lets pray for this to happen.

Posted by: LL817 | February 8, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I also saw several instances of cars piled high with snow on roofs. I wondered if it was something cops could ticket for such as a reckless driving infraction or reckless endangerment infraction. Obviously, police officers have better things to do but if they were ticketing for it, I would hope such incidences would decrease.

Posted by: JLF03 | February 8, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

For everyone out there - please feel free to say something to your neighbor,coworker, or any stranger you see attempting to drive off with a pile of snow atop their automobile.

It is unbelievable that law enforcement isn't ticketing offenders. C'mon man!

Posted by: DCwaryman | February 8, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Grid, I'd like to answer this one, with your permission. These people riding with snow on their roof, are the same people who answer "undecided" in presidential polling the day before elections, the same people who eat at Ruby Tuesday's and TGI Fridays, the same people who think "Two and A Half Men" is funny, the same people who don't "believe" in global warming, and the same people who want "the government to stay out of my Medicare." Sadly, there are a lot of just plain dumb people out there.

Posted by: calwilson37 | February 8, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone zoom in on the license tags of those trucks in the photo?!!!

Posted by: seaduck2001 | February 8, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

People who don't clear all the snow off their cars and drive around with a foot-tall snow crown are not idiots or dumb. They're selfish and lazy. Lazy because they can't be bothered to take the time and effort to clear all the snow off. Selfish because they drive around like that with no regard for anyone but themselves and their own convenience.

And it gets worse, because as the snow crown melts it packs down to an ice sheet, which will fly off like a badly fastened convertible top as soon as they hit higher speeds. When that happens, those drivers will have drifted from selfish and lazy to reckless and negligent.

Only one way to stop this---the po-po need to write some big fat tickets. The city needs funds, right? I mean, they need to charge me 5 cents a pop for bags at the store, so I know they're hard up. Start squeezing the bastards who not only feel they must drive in conditions like this, but who make matters worse by further endangering the rest of us.

Or how about arresting them for reckless endangerment or something, and just get them off the roads.

Posted by: dcpost1 | February 8, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

To everyone who is short and does not clean off the top of their car, GET A BROOM. It's not that hard. Let's try for some constructive criticism here and teach people how to get the stuff off their car.

Also, DO NOT WAIT TO CLEAN OFF YOUR CAR. Do it as soon as you can and let the sun do the work and melt it off the top. That will make life a lot easier.

Posted by: brcmapgirl | February 8, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Being short is not an excuse. Many of these cars are SUVs anyway, but get a ladder or stand on a snow bank.

Anyway, I agree--I realize the cops have other things to do, but they should station a few before on-ramps and along busy streets and pull over anyone with snow on their roof. Bring a push broom, make them clear it off, and give them a $50 ticket. Bring the news media so they can film it to remind people.

Posted by: ah___ | February 8, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Being short is no excuse. I'm very short and drive a small SUV--and I clean off the roof of my car. I use a broom, a plastic snow shovel, whatever--but I clean it off. I'm noticing quite a few commercial vehicles with uncleared roofs lately, such as construction or landscaping vans. Yep, exactly the people who should have the equipment and means to clear off their vehicles!

Posted by: ltwd | February 8, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

The Post won't let me post the link to this device because they'd consider it advertising, but you can do a search. I have no interest in or affiliation with the company. Anyway, I have a device called a SnoBrum. It's a rectangular foam thing that you use to push the snow off the top of the car. Doesn't scratch the paint the way brooms and shovels do, and the handle--which unscrews from the "Brum" part--has a built-in ice scraper. I park in my garage and so don't need the thing often, but it's very useful when I do need it. I highly recommend this sort of device to anyone who parks outside, especially short women with tall SUVs.

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 8, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

To CarlWIlson
I always completely clean the snow off of my car. I also believe in global warming, this that Two and 1/2 Men is hillarious, support the President;s Health Care agenda and have been know to frequen Happy Hour at TGI Fridays. You might want to disengage your prejudices before posting such comments

Posted by: ECo34 | February 8, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

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