Traffic stacks up on 5300 South in Taylorsville as snow falls along the Wasatch Front on Friday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Snow that’s fallen the past two weeks means Utah drivers are once again dealing with the frustrations associated with all the white stuff on the roadways.
And Donovan Mitchell has a bone to pick with drivers who don’t clean the snow off their cars before they drive.
“Is it not a law in Utah gotta take ALL the snow off the top of your car?? This is getting out of hand,” the Utah Jazz star guard tweeted Thursday morning.
Is it not a law in Utah gotta take ALL the snow off the top of your car?? This is getting out of hand???
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) December 16, 2021
Mitchell is partially right about the law, and correct in that it’s a good practice to clean off all the snow from your vehicle before driving, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden.
Utah’s law requires that motorists must clear anything that may “obstruct the view of the operator to the front or sides of the vehicle” before driving — meaning drivers must clear snow from their windows. Failing to do so will result in a ticket.
But there’s nothing specific about the top of cars. That said, the Utah Department of Public Safety recommends that drivers clear all the snow off their vehicles before driving as a safety precaution and just as a common courtesy.
“I think we’ve all been behind that vehicle on the freeway that’s got a lot of snow on it. If you’re following behind it, then a lot of times that snow blows off and decreases the visibility for everybody behind that vehicle — especially that first little bit after they’ve gotten on that freeway,” Roden said.
He added that state troopers have even seen instances when a vehicle stops, and that causes snow on top of a vehicle to fall onto the vehicle’s windshield, impairing visibility that way.
It’s not just a visibility concern. The department points out that snow left on vehicles can harden and cause significant damage to other vehicles when it flies off, including breaking windshields. Roden said he’s seen the damage to vehicles from ice first-hand during the recent storms.
This is why some states do require drivers to clear snow off an entire vehicle, Car and Driver points out. Two of those, by the way, are Connecticut and New Hampshire, the two states Mitchell lived in for high school and the star has plenty of ties to — perhaps why he thought of the law. The outlet adds that some states that don’t have laws can still issue citations for not securing a load.
Roden isn’t sure how many crashes failings to clear off the top of a vehicle has resulted in this year, but Utah troopers have dealt with hundreds of weather-related crashes with the return of winter driving. Some of that is drivers who have gone into “autopilot” over the past several months without snow and forgetting the basics, including that roads may look normal but are slick due to ice and slush, Roden said.
“We’ve had busy days and a lot of crashes, so we have to remind people to slow down in the snow,” he said. “You’ve still got to be able to drive at a safe speed so if they encounter those things, they can maintain control.”
Cleaning off the top of your vehicle is just another thing you can do to help out, regardless of the law.