Winter Common Sense For Car Owners

By Amy Jeanroy 

For people who live in Maine, driving in snowy weather is second nature. It can seem as if it’s no big deal to run to the store during the latest blizzard, and no matter how bad the storm was the night before, cars are on the road first thing the next morning as if nothing happened.

Although Maine drivers can brave winter driving conditions better than most, it also makes it easy to become complacent to the rules for safe driving. As the photo shows, cars can build up quite a pile of snow and ice on the roof and bumpers. It may not seem to be an issue, until you consider that the person driving behind you will bear the brunt of all that snow and ice coming off to land on their windshield or even on the road.

 Maine law addresses snow on vehicles in various places. The State of Maine Motorist Handbook and Study Guide, says:

 By law, and for safety’s sake, you must be able to see clearly through the windows, windshields and mirrors.

 And also:

Clear snow, ice, or frost from all windows and head and taillights before you start to drive.

There is a law about the visibility of license plates as well. According to, the specific law states:

 Position of registration plate- A registration plate must be displayed horizontally. Only one set of Maine registration plates may be displayed on one vehicle. A registration plate must be attached to the front and the rear of each vehicle

 Plainly visible and legible- Registration plates, including the numbers, letters and words, must always be plainly visible and legible.

 There is no specific law about clearing snow and ice off the roof of your vehicle, but officers can stop you if you it appears that your vehicle is posing a potential safety issue to other drivers.

 The bottom line is, driving in snow and ice may seem like no big deal, but the law does require that drivers extend the common courtesy of driving a safe vehicle. Take a moment to clear the snow off your entire car before driving. Use a broom to clear off the roof of the vehicle, and keep both bumpers and license plates clear of any wintry buildup. Safe driving means courteous driving. Be careful out there!