If you think you can get away with quickly clearing off your car’s windows before heading home after a snowy weekend at the cottage, think again.
In some provinces, you can actually be fined for it, and last week a Winnipeg man found out the hard way. According to a report by CBC News, Jonathan McCullough was slapped with a nearly $240 ticket for driving with too much snow on the roof of his van.
McCullough told reporters that he was on his way to the local hockey rink when he got pulled over. He said it took him a while to realize the police were after him. When he finally stopped on the side of the road and rolled down his window, the officer asked him why he had so much snow on his roof.
“I was completely dumbfounded by his question,” he told CBC.
Although McCullough was aware that you could be fined for having an unsecured load on your vehicle, he had no idea the law would apply to the seven to 10 centimetres of snow sitting on top of the roof of his minivan.
After getting hit with a $237.50 fine, McCullough said he wishes the law were more specific, and that there was more public awareness around this type of thing.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything around that would alert people. You drive down the street you see, ‘Don’t text and drive,’ ‘Watch for motorcyclists,’ stuff like that. I’ve never seen something about cleaning off your vehicle in the winter so it’s never even crossed my mind.”
According to Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver, it falls under securing vehicle loads in Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act. Although the Act doesn’t say anything specifically about snow, Carver said it applies to “anything on the vehicle that isn’t actually part of the vehicle that could potentially fly off and cause a hazard for people behind you.”
Not only could the snow blow back onto someone else’s vehicle, it could also slide down to cover your rear window and reduce your visibility. And if there’s ice involved, there’s always the chance that something like this could happen:
After seeing that video, it should come as no surprise that Ontario amended its Highway Traffic Act to specifically prohibit “driving a motor vehicle on a highway with a dangerous accumulation of snow or ice.” If you are driving with snow or ice on your car and they would pose a danger to another vehicle if they were to slide off, you can be fined up to $500. For commercial vehicles, the maximum fine is $1,000.