Ice and Snow on your Car? Clean it Off!

Closeup view of hand with snowscraper

Heavy snowfall levels and ice storms are a standard feature of Ontario’s winters and yet, every year, drivers and pedestrians become reacquainted with the dangers of ice and snow flying off of vehicles. Cars that are parked outside overnight can collect large accumulations of snow, which can become packed and hard to remove. Add an ice storm to the equation and the snow becomes an ice block. Even if there’s no snow in sight, a freezing rain storm can cause sheets of ice to form on your vehicle.

Of course, it goes without saying that all ice and snow should be fully cleared from your windows before taking to the roadway. Driving with any barrier that prevents you from seeing clearly through all the windows of your car (not just your windshield), as well as your rear-view mirrors, makes for a very dangerous situation.

Another risk that drivers are less aware of is the danger created when snow and ice accumulate on the roof of one’s car. This goes for all manner of vehicles and, one could argue, especially for trucks and vans given the very large flat surfaces on the top of their boxes and trailers.

Failing to properly clean the ice and snow from the top of your vehicle can pose a significant risk. When in motion, the heat from the vehicle can cause the ice and snow to loosen and then fly off the vehicle in chunks with the momentum of speed and wind.

A plume of flying snow can reduce visibility for the drivers around you. It can also be very distracting and dangerous if a large chunk of snow or ice comes flying off of your car and into the path of traffic behind you. There are many documented examples of significant damage to hoods and windshields as a result of ice detaching from other vehicles. Even if a driver avoids contact with flying chunks of ice and snow, reactions such as sudden braking or swerving to avoid the obstacle can result in collisions amongst other vehicles further back in traffic.

Failing to properly clean ice and snow from one’s vehicle is not only dangerous, it is against the law. Ontario law requires that the windshields, roofs and hoods of vehicles be completely cleared of ice and snow before going out on the roads. Drivers who fail to comply with this law can incur a significant fine. Additionally, if you are identified as the culprit of an accident caused by failing to clear your vehicle of ice and snow, you may find yourself as a Defendant in a lawsuit. Not only would this affect your insurance premiums, it could also leave you with the shame and guilt of knowing that a few minutes of extra care could have prevented the injury or death of an innocent victim.

In order to avoid this situation, you should always keep scrapers and brushes in your vehicle. You can also purchase a special spray that will pre-treat your windows to avoid icing and help with the de-icing process. If at all possible, keep vehicles indoors or covered when you know a heavy snow fall or ice storm is on the way.

This article is intended to remind those who fail to keep these dangers in mind to properly clean the ice and snow off of their vehicles before setting out on the road. Unfortunately, many drivers will not heed this advice. At Howie, Sacks & Henry we represent all manner of accident victims, including those who have suffered injury at the hands of negligent operators of automobiles and trucks. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident or injury as a result of ice or snow flying off of a vehicle, please contact Michael Henry at 416-361-0889 or by e-mail


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