No snow is forecast for New Jersey this week but state highway safety officials warned Monday that when it does fall, New Jerseyans should always clear snow and ice fom their vehicles before hitting the road.
Snow and ice left on a vehicle can become deadly projectiles, causing significant and costly damage to other vehicles and potentially fatal injuries to motorists and their passengers, Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer said.
"Before you get behind the wheel, take a few moments to completely clear your vehicle's hood, windows and roof," Fischer said. "This simple task can be a lifesaver for you and everyone else on the road."
Under current state law, motorists who fail to remove ice and snow from their vehicles and cause property damage or injury to others can be cited and fined $200 to as much as $1,000 per offense. In addition, on Oct. 19, Gov. Jon Corzine signed into law legislation amending the current statute; drivers of all vehicles (commercial and passenger) operated on any roadway in the state are required to make all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated snow and ice from all exposed surfaces prior to operation. While the change goes into effect on Oct. 20, 2010, state officials remind motorists to be pro-active and ensure that their vehicles are clear of all snow and ice.
"I firmly believe in the enforcement of this law because in December of 2007, a large slab of ice flew off a car in front of me and came through my windshield," said Lt. Col. Juan Mattos, State Police deputy superintendent of operations "I had glass all over me and had a tough time getting my car safely to the side of the road. I could have been severely injured or even killed because of that driver's laziness."
Fischer also said motorists should modify their driving behavior based on current weather conditions.
"Each year in New Jersey, more than 75,000 crashes occur on snow and ice covered roads, resulting in an average of 10 lives lost and nearly 20,000 injuries," she said. "While it's always safest to stay off the road in bad weather, if you must travel, slow down, particularly on exit ramps and bridges; leave ample travel time; allow extra space between your vehicle and others on the road; make sure you turn on your headlights, using low beams when driving in snow; and, buckle-up, every ride."
In anticipation of the inclement weather, motorists are also encouraged to:
- Tune up and winterize their vehicles, as well as check the radiator, battery, antifreeze, and all other fluid levels.
- Check tire treads and replace them if they're unsafe.
- Check and replace windshield wiper blades if the rubber is cracked and/or brittle. And be sure to check and refill the washer fluid reservoir.
- Maintain at least a half a tank of gas during the winter to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
- Motorists should also keep a winter driving "safety kit" in their vehicles that is easily accessible in the event of an emergency. The kit should include: an ice scraper/brush; shovel; jumper cables or battery starter; warm blanket; sand, salt or cat litter for traction in ice and snow; lock de-icer; safety flares/warning devices; flashlight and new batteries; extra windshield washer fluid; cell phone with a charged spare battery; water and non-perishable food , for example, granola or protein bars and, paper towels or a cloth.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM