With heavy snowfalls and icy conditions each winter in Michigan, drivers have a responsibility to drive safely. This means clearing your vehicle of all snow and ice so you can see clearly when heading onto the road.

Yet all too often, drivers only take the time to clear a tiny porthole on their windshield, posing a danger to other motorists. It’s crucial to know the risks of limited visibility due to snow and ice accumulation and how it can affect your liability in an accident.

If you are hurt in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, our Michigan auto accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.

The Dangers of Not Removing Snow Before Driving

By law, you must remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before driving. Failing to do this can result in the following dangerous situations:

  • Limited visibility. Driving with just a porthole cleared on the windshield restricts your field of vision, making it more likely you’ll miss critical driving cues or obstacles.
  • Compromised peripheral vision. If the side door and rear windows are not cleared, you lose essential peripheral vision. This can impact your ability to make safe turns or pass other vehicles.
  • Obstructed rear view. Failing to clear the rear window can make it nearly impossible to see vehicles or objects behind you, increasing the risk of a collision.
  • Shifting snow from the roof. Snow accumulated on the roof can shift and fall when the vehicle is in motion, blocking your view through the windshield or rear window and leading to dangerous, sudden stops or swerves.
  • Hazard to other drivers. Snow flying off your car could land on the vehicle behind you, obstructing their view and potentially causing an accident.
  • Increased stopping distance. Snow and ice on your windshield can also lead to misting or fogging on the inside of the glass, reducing visibility and increasing the distance needed to come to a complete stop.
  • Impaired judgment. Reduced visibility might cause you to misjudge the distances and speeds of other vehicles, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
  • Reduced situational awareness. Incomplete snow removal impacts your ability to fully assess and respond to your driving environment, making you more susceptible to risks on the road.

Neglecting to take the proper safety measures may result in legal liability if you or another driver are responsible for causing an accident. Call the legal professionals at Fieger Law for guidance if you are involved in an ice or snow-related crash involving another driver.

Liability Issues of Failing to Remove Snow and Ice

If snow or ice flies off your vehicle and causes damage to another vehicle or interferes with another driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely, you could be held liable.

Michigan normally uses a no-fault insurance system for auto accidents. This means personal injury protection insurance (PIP) will cover medical costs, no matter who’s at fault. However, if you’re negligent—for example, by not removing snow and ice from your car—you can still be sued for damages not covered by the other driver’s PIP coverage.

If you have liability coverage, your insurance will likely pay for these damages. But this could lead to higher insurance rates or losing your coverage. If you don’t have the minimum insurance requirements, you could face a lawsuit and have to pay out of pocket.

Tips for Effective and Quick Removal of Snow and Ice

Driving in frigid Michigan winters requires a proactive approach. Here are some tips for ensuring your vehicle is snow and ice-free:

  • Use the right tools. Invest in a good-quality ice scraper and snow brush to store in your vehicle. They’re designed to remove ice and snow without scratching your car’s paint or window glass.
  • Turn on your defroster. Before scraping, turn on your car and use the defroster to make the process easier. It’ll help loosen the ice, making it easier to scrape off.
  • De-icing solutions. Consider keeping a de-icing spray in your car. If you don’t have a commercial de-icer, a solution of two parts rubbing alcohol and one part water works in a pinch.
  • Clear from top to bottom. Start by clearing the snow from the roof. This way, you won’t push or drop snow onto areas you’ve already cleared.
  • Check your lights. Keep all lights free of snow and ice. Dirty headlights produce as little as 20% as much light as clean ones, significantly reducing visibility.
  • Keep an emergency winter kit. Always keep an emergency winter kit in your car, including extra gloves, a flashlight, and a small shovel. This can help you remove all the ice and snow from your vehicle if you are away from home or stuck on the side of the road when snow begins to fall.

Protect Your Rights After a Crash with Fieger Law

If you are involved in a winter-weather crash, a Michigan auto accident lawyer from Fieger Law can help you explore your legal options. We can gather evidence, like dash or traffic camera footage or witness testimony, to prove the other driver in your collision acted negligently, causing your injuries.


Our team can help you file your claim for compensation or represent you in court to seek a full settlement for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.