Police urge people to clear snow and ice from vehicles
BRATTLEBORO - Andrea Scheidler was nearly 200 feet behind a truck towing a utility trailer when a layer of ice peeled off the top of the trailer and headed straight for her vehicle.
Scheidler was traveling north on Interstate 91 on Jan. 2 and was on the West River bridge when the ice came flying at her vehicle.
"I saw it coming toward me," she said. "I thought this is going to be a good smash."
Because she was on the bridge, which has no breakdown lane, there was nowhere to go to get out of its path.
"There was no way to avoid it."
The ice and snow hit her hood, just 18 inches in front of the windshield before bouncing up into the glass creating a spiderweb of cracks in front of her eyes.
"I held the road," said Scheidler, of Putney, who did her best to catch up to the truck towing the trailer.
She flicked her lights at the vehicle but when it wouldn't pull over, she called 911 and gave the dispatcher the license plate number.
"We deal with this type of thing all the time," said Vermont State Police Capt. Ray Keefe, the commander of Troop D, with barracks in Brattleboro, Bennington and Royalton.
Unfortunately, said Keefe, it's not a ticketable offense.
"There's no law in this state that you have to completely clear your vehicle of snow and ice," he said. "It's very dangerous, but there's nothing we can do."
All a motorist can do is what Scheidler did - get the license plate and contact your insurance company.
Scheidler said the cost for repairs is right around $2,000, most of which the insurance company will pay for. She was told that the insurance company will attempt to contact the driver of the pickup truck and pursue a claim against him or her.
Drivers can be pulled over if snow or ice obstructs their vision, or if the license plate is obscured, said Keefe. While there is no criminal statute to be enforced, people who don't clean their vehicles off could find themselves in a heap of trouble.
"Theoretically, if you did cause an accident, you could be civilly liable," said Keefe.
He also said though you might be in a hurry to get somewhere and can't reach snow or ice on top of your vehicle or trailer, leaving it there is "reckless and rude."
Scheidler said she will keep a close eye on vehicles in front of her from now on, but there's really only so much you can do.
She's just glad she didn't get hurt.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter@audette.reformer.
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