It's finally starting to feel like winter here in Washington. While winter brings Christmas and other joyous holidays, it also means colder weather and tough driving conditions. You may have some routines that get you through the tricky winter commute that may actually be illegal.
Say you're getting ready for work in the morning. It's cold; blistering cold. You can imagine how cold your car is going to be. You shudder at the thought of your hands gripping the ice-cold steering wheel. You decide to start your car up and leave it running while you go back inside and drink a warm cup of coffee. Just like that, you've broken the law. RCW 46.61.600 clearly states that you cannot leave your car without "stopping the engine, locking the ignition, [and] removing the key." As for remote start systems, that's a different story.
Let's picture another scenario. You're running late for work and fresh snow has befallen your vehicle. If you took the time to completely clear the snow off your car, you risk being late. You swipe the snow off your windshield and windows and call it good. Bam, you're in legal hot water again. In one extreme case last week, a driver was cited for negligent driving in the second degree and was popped with a fine of over $500!
Let's look at one last situation. You've been using studded tires through the winter but you leave them on your car well into the spring. The Washington State Department of Transportation says you need to have those switched out by March 31, as studded tires wreak havoc on Washington streets and highways, upwards of $20 million or more each year in damages.
Let's do our best to drive safely and be kind to other drivers this winter.