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Clean your car windshield — and your roof, it’s the law

The second of February’s winter blasts may have come and gone yesterday, but remnants of both storms remain — mainly on the roofs of minivans and SUVs. Unfortunately, these heavy slabs of ice unhinge themselves in warmer weather and jump from their nests to the road below — or at times the windshields of other cars.

The other day, my mother and I embarked on what should have been an uneventful road trip to the University of Maryland. It wasn’t.

I suppose it was an ominous warning when we passed a Greyhound Bus with its windshield smashed being pulled by a tow truck, but who pays attention to such warnings anyway?

Our first face-off with fate occurred when the sport utility vehicle in the next lane shed its frozen coating and the remains bounced under our van.

Next came a 4-foot long sheet of ice that broke free from the roof of a tattered Mercury minivan and flipped twice in the air before smashing a few feet in front of us. Only minutes later (after I’d gotten my heart out of my throat) a Giant Food 18-wheeler flung a hefty wedge of ice onto the road several cars in front of us; the words “Safe Driving is a Civic Duty” were plastered on the back of the trailer. Indeed, it is.

After this barrage of flying ice projectiles and thoughts of my becoming another statistic crossed my mind, I couldn’t help but notice how oblivious some of our fellow Marylanders seem to be.

After all, if I, a driver of less than a year, can grasp that it’s a respectable idea to push a 4-foot slab of ice off my car, why can’t someone who has been driving for two or more decades?

Although dodging flying ice would surely make for an exciting video game (EA Games can thank me later for the idea), it puts the lives of thousands of commuters at risk.

Several severe accidents have been caused by ice falling from vehicles and left many victims to foot the bill of replacing windshields as the culprits drive on obliviously. The 4-foot block of ice that smashed in front of us was hurled from its car at more than 70 mph having enough force to smash glass, break bones and take lives.

Not only is it extremely dangerous, it’s against the law. The same law that penalizes residents for flinging trash or other objects from their car windows requires residents to clear snow and ice from their vehicles.

But many don’t seem to care and have adapted a similar mentality as the residents who have yet to clear the inches of snow from their sidewalks.

Although police insist they enforce such laws, my short trip nearly a week after the storm demonstrates such tactics haven’t worked, nor will they in the future.

I suppose one possible solution would be for salt-truck drivers who sprinkle so liberally to toss some up on car roofs. The 3-inch mound of salt sitting in my street would certainly be more helpful there than eating away at asphalt.

If you haven’t yet garnered the physical or mental strength to chip away the ice on your vehicle’s roof, give a little. The job doesn’t just stop with clearing your windshield, and most of us could use the exercise.

Save your neighbors the terror of having a chunk of ice the size of a sofa flung at them — and save yourself the money of having to replace the windshield of a very unhappy camper. After all, safe driving is a civic duty.

Justin Snow is an editorial intern at The Baltimore Examiner. He may be reached at jsnow@baltimoreexaminer.com

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