As British Columbians feel the impacts of winter weather, drivers are reminded to clear snow off their vehicles not only to reduce the risk of a crash but to avoid getting fined, according to authorities.
It’s a warning that follows recent sightings of snow-covered vehicles, including in Victoria where Brian Lepine spotted a car being weighed down by a massive pile of the white stuff, with not even half the windshield cleared.
Lepine posted a photo of the car, parked outside Fairfield Plaza on Dec. 21, to Facebook, saying, “this one takes the ‘let’s be senseless in the snow’ award. I watched as he drove into the parking lot.”
I know we're not super used to snow here in #YYJ but come on folks, this is ridiculous and SO DANGEROUS! This photo was taken at Fairfield Plaza on Wednesday.
— Tess van Straaten (@tessvanstraaten) December 23, 2022
A driver’s visibility is paramount when it comes to road safety and if a vehicle’s windows — front, back or side — are obstructed, the possibility of a collision increases, BC RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau tells CHEK News.
If police catch someone operating a vehicle while their vision is obstructed, the driver faces a $109 fine plus three penalty points, states the Motor Vehicle Act.
“Take that time, don’t get fined,” said Manseau, noting most times, it really only takes a couple of minutes to rid a vehicle of snow and ensure it’s safe for the road.
“A lot of drivers aren’t familiar with winter driving, that’s just the nature of the beast. We do see (snow-covered vehicles) from time to time and sometimes, it makes it difficult for us to pull people over,” he said.
Sounds for the driver get dampened, too, meaning someone in a vehicle blanketed by snow might not hear an emergency vehicle trying to pass them, sirens and all.
“I can remember a time up north when I tried to pull a guy over basically from his driveway right to his work with my lights and siren on. Of course, the snow is also excellent at insulating against sound,” added Manseau.
“It was a small town, probably only about six blocks, but by the time we got to his office, I think he was a little embarrassed.”
The Insurance Corporation of B.C. also encourages drivers to clear snow off their vehicles before driving, including headlights, wheel wells and external sensors.
Amid Tuesday’s snowfall in Victoria, ICBC says it received a total of 1,676 claims from across the province that day, followed by 2,110 on Wednesday and 1,519 on Thursday — contributing to the more than 9,600 since Sunday.