Record October snowfall forced motorists to dust off their winter driving skills a bit earlier than normal — prompting Larry, a loyal Drive reader, and others to call and e-mail last week with pleas to remind motorists to completely brush the snow off their vehicles before hitting the road.
You got it, Larry. Here it is:
Hey everybody, clean off your car, including the roof. Don’t be a rolling blizzard.
If that isn’t authoritative enough, perhaps a strong admonition from the State Patrol will do the trick.
“Drivers should always take the time to remove all snow and ice from the vehicle so it does not become a hazard on the roadway or for other motorists,” said the patrol’s Sgt. Troy Christianson.
It’s also important for drivers to completely clear the frost, snow and ice from all windows so their vision isn’t obstructed, he added.
That’s common sense, but in Minnesota it is also the law. Failure to abide could result in a misdemeanor and a $100 fine.
The State Patrol does not have data on how many citations it issues to drivers specifically for not removing snow or ice, since the offense falls under the statute covering littering — dropping an object “likely to injure any person, animal, or vehicle upon any such street or highway” without the owner’s consent.
Yet, just about every winter it seems we hear about a tragedy resulting from a chunk of ice or snow flying off one vehicle and smashing onto the windshield of another. It recently happened to Jessica Matheson.
“On the way home, a snow/ice chunk from another vehicle flew off and hit my windshield, cracking it,” she wrote in a tweet.
Drivers could face civil liability if they fail to take reasonable steps to remove snow and ice that results in property damage or injuries from a crash, Christianson said.
“These crashes are preventable by allowing yourself enough time to clear your vehicle before you drive it after a snow or ice event,” he said.
If you come upon a snow-shedding vehicle, Christianson said you should give yourself plenty of room to avoid any obstacles that may fly off and strike your vehicle. Pass the offending vehicle, but only if it’s safe to do so.
Free rides to the polls
Three suburban transit agencies will give voters free rides to the polls on Tuesday, Election Day.
• Plymouth Metrolink will transport riders to and from polling locations within city limits between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Rides through the city’s Dial-A-Ride shuttle service will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Trips can be booked by calling 763-559-5057 or by using the TransLoc app available from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
• Maple Grove Transit will take voters to and from polling sites within the city from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. using its My Ride service. Voters are encouraged to make a reservation Monday by calling 763-493-2200, but rides will be accepted Tuesday as capacity permits, said administrator Mike Opatz.
• SouthWest Transit is offering a really good deal with its “Free Fare Tuesday” on Prime, the agency’s on-demand ride service. “You can take it free of charge to and from the polls or for any other reason,” said CEO Len Simich.
Neither Metro Transit nor the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) will offer free rides Tuesday.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.