Editorial: Driving in snow conditions takes common sense
The attached photographs — one from a reader and one (the truck) from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office — show people driving with little snow, very little, removed from their vehicles’ windows.
Not only is this dangerous — because they would be unable to have a full view of the road or traffic — it lacks common sense.
It is also against the law.
In order to drive your vehicle legally on Arizona roads, you are required to follow certain laws. Parts of those laws also include requirements for and regulations for windshields that all drivers must follow, according to online sources including Arizona Revised Statutes.
Dwight D’Evelyn, spokesperson for the YCSO, said Friday the Sheriff’s Office has been citing drivers for this.
“A traffic supervisor … stopped two drivers in the last couple of days for the same thing; he did not allow them to leave until the windshield was cleaned,” D’Evelyn said. “They were given a warning under the circumstances.
“Just today, the same supervisor did cite an individual for snow obstruction,” he said, referring to the image of a white pickup.
Following are some of the laws in Arizona:
• Arizona requires that all vehicles other than golf carts have windshield wipers that are in good working condition.The wipers must be under the control of the driver, and capable of removing snow, rain and other types of moisture from the windshield.
• Arizona does not have any regulations covering cracks or chips in the windshield. However, these can be addressed under the statutes that drivers cannot have anything attached or affixed to the windshield that prevents them from seeing clearly through the glass. Additionally, drivers are required to follow the federal regulations, which include:
If a windshield has cracks that are intersected by one or more cracks, it must be replaced.
Chips, cracks and other damage cannot be larger than three-quarters of an inch in diameter.
Areas of chips, cracks and other damage cannot be within 3 inches of another area of damage on the windshield.
And, damage and discoloration is not permitted in the area between the top of the steering wheel and to within 2 inches of the top edge of the windshield.
• Any driver who is stopped and issued a citation for failing to comply with windshield laws in Arizona is subject to fines. These fines can vary throughout the state, as each county can determine its own violation amounts. It is also important to remember that citations are issued based on the officer’s discretion of the degree of obstruction that hinders the driver’s ability to see clearly.
These laws do not directly mention removal of snow; however, it is really simple: If your windshield needs to be inspected or your wipers are not working properly — or if your view is obstructed — you need to remedy the problem so you can get back on the road safely and driving within the law.
D’Evelyn took it one step further. “There is another (reason) that deputies may elect to use — unsafe vehicle — (which) allows deputies to prevent the further use of a vehicle until it is rendered safe.”
According to the common section used (ARS 28-959.01-B), general court fines vary, but start around $115 not including court costs or additional fines, he added.
Motorists that see such obstructions are urged to call their local law enforcement agency with a vehicle description and location.
“There is NO EXCUSE for such lack of concern regarding the safety of other motorists and pedestrians on our roadways,” D’Evelyn said. “Imagine a kid crossing the street on his bicycle in front of a driver who can only see what is in front of his or her hood.”
Side note, we commend the City of Prescott, Town of Prescott Valley and Yavapai County for their efforts during this snowstorm – street crews and law enforcement. The roads have been passable, a vast change from the New Year’s Eve Day storm. And one has been unable to drive anywhere in the past four days without seeing multiple plows or officers out and doing their jobs. Thank you!