When it comes to removing ice and snow from a vehicle before getting on the road, Colorado has little to no laws on the books.
“There is not a specific Colorado law that prohibits driving down the road with a snow- or ice-covered vehicle,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Blake White said. “It could end up creating a civil liability if your failure to clear your vehicle results in damage or injury to someone else.”
Where the law could also apply is if snow or ice obstructs the driver’s vision through the vehicle’s required glass.
According to White, drivers often fail to clear their windshield, hood or other windows of snow and ice, which can lead to serious safety hazards.
“The snow can blow and obstruct other drivers from seeing clearly or can come off in a large damaging sheet of ice and strike another vehicle,” White said.
Subsequently, Colorado State Patrol highly recommends that drivers remove snow from their entire vehicle in order to prevent it from being a hazard to themselves or others.
Locally, Lt. Bill Kimminau said the Glenwood Springs Police department had received at least one complaint this winter of vehicles with too much snow on their roofs driving on the city’s streets.
However, unless that snow or ice obstructs the driver’s vision or prohibits the vehicle’s lights or license plate from being seen, law enforcement has limited tools at its disposal.
According to Kimminau, 12 wrecks occurred in the area Friday during the day.
“They were scattered all over town.” Kimminau said. “Side streets, parking lots, Grand [Avenue]…I know it was really slick in the morning.”
In addition to clearing vehicles of ice and snow before getting on the roadways, White also emphasized a basic winter driving principle – slowing down.
“Let’s get everybody home safe at the end of the day,” Diane Reynolds, Take A Minute campaign member, said.
Take A Minute is a local grassroots campaign, which grew out of Imagine Glenwood’s ongoing mission to enhance neighborhoods by promoting pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety.
The campaign’s name derives from the fact that the time saved by driving 10 miles per hour over the 25 mph speed limit through Glenwood’s core evidently amounts to exactly that – one minute.
“Obeying community speeds are really critical to Glenwood’s long term wellbeing,” Reynolds said.
“In winter weather drivers must plan on it taking longer to reach their destinations,” White said. “Slow down, give yourself more room and don’t drive distracted.”
According to Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) data, Garfield County experienced eight fatal crashes which took the lives of 10 people last year.