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Behind-the-Wheel

Stiff fines for not brushing snow off your vehicle

Are you driving a snowdrift?

Now that the snow has arrived (at higher elevations), I’ve noticed many drivers who don't clean off their vehicles.

The wiper blade is the only cleaning tool used before driving and frankly that's a collision waiting to happen. Then there are the vehicles behind them that get the blowing snow off the roof and trunk of the vehicle (in front.)

Did I mention the back window hasn't been cleared either? Why someone would do something so stupid is beyond me.

This reader raises an issue that is often explained away with the assertion, "I'm only going a couple of blocks" or "I don't have time.”

Of course, neither of these answers can justify the selfish decision made by those drivers who impair either their own safety or the safety of other road users around them for the sake of staying warm and saving a few minutes of their time.

If one of these drivers was struck by another who followed the same rule of thumb, I suspect this practice would no longer be acceptable.

There are three issues to be dealt with here. The first is a driver must not move their vehicle unless their view to the front and sides is unimpaired. That means the windshield and front side windows must be clear of ice and snow and defogged. Expect to be ticketed and directed to the roadside until you have cleared your windows properly.

What about the back window? I dare say a defensive driver would not drive without clearing their back window. For those that choose not to, remember mirrors must provide you with an undistorted view to the rear. If you don't have a right outside mirror, that view must be provided by the inside mirror, so the rear window would have to be cleared. If you do, both outside mirrors must be clear as well.

Finally, snow left on your vehicle can be considered to be cargo, which means “all articles or material carried by a vehicle, including those used in the operation of the vehicle." Cargo must be secured before you drive so failing to clean off a cargo of snow and ice could result in an unsecured load ticket.

Oddly, the monetary penalty for cargo security violations is significantly more than that for driving when you cannot see properly.

• Drive with view obstructed: $109 and three penalty points

• Mirror violations: $109 and no penalty points

• Unsecured load: $173 and no penalty points

• Fail to stop and secure cargo: $598 and no penalty points

Brush, scrape and defrost before you go, or be prepared to pay the price.

Remember, that price could be a collision rather than a ticket, and thinking "I should have..." is way too late.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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