You can guarantee these two things when a snowstorm hits New England.

Grocery stores will be wiped clean of bread and milk and there will be at least one driver who does the bare minimum of cleaning the snow off their vehicle.

We’ve all seen the commuter who left a giant heap of snow on top of their car or only scraped off the snow from the driver’s side windshield. Not only is that dangerous, but it turns out that commuters may be breaking the law if they do not properly clear their vehicle of snow.

AAA put in the leg work for drivers across the country and compiled the snow removal laws for each state.

Let’s open the rule book for Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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Snow and Ice Removal Laws in Rhode Island

For Rhode Island, General Law 31-23-16 addresses snow and ice removal from cars, stating, “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any significant amounts of snow or ice upon the vehicle.”

The law defines “significant” as “any amount of accumulation which might reasonably be expected, when blowing off the vehicle while driving, to obscure the vision of an operator of another vehicle.”

Snow and Ice Removal Laws in Massachusetts

For Massachusetts, it’s a different story.

Massachusetts does not have a law specifically addressing snow accumulation on cars, but Massachusetts commuters are not totally in the clear with cutting corners during a snowstorm.

AAA explained: “Drivers who fail to remove snow and ice from their vehicles, for example, could be cited for driving with an unsecured load.”

Chapter 85, Section 35 of the Massachusetts law book states, “No person shall drive or move a motor vehicle in any way … if it is loaded with sand, gravel, loam, dirt, stone, rubbish or debris that could fall on other vehicles or on the highway and create litter or potential hazards to other vehicles, unless its load is fully and adequately covered.”

Then there is Chapter 90, Section 13, which prohibits impeding the operation of a motor vehicle, such as snow blocking a window.

So, when snowfall is in the forecast, take the time to clear your car to avoid breaking any violations in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Let's channel smart and safe driving in 2024.

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