Legalese — Driving in the Snow

I learned how to drive in New York, where snow was something that you expected every winter.  People knew what to do.  Here in Georgia, where it only snows every few years, and rarely more than an inch or so, it isn’t quite the same.  People have no idea the special techniques you must utilize for safe driving in the snow.  We don’t have tons of snowplows or salt trucks, and so the roads here in the south truly are more dangerous than the roads in the north when there is 10x as much snow.

And so, the department of transportation must get involved.  Georgia law gives the DOT the authority to close down roads “due to a declared state of emergency for inclement weather conditions that results in dangerous driving conditions.”[1]  This means that a prerequisite to the DOT closing the roads is the Governor declaring a state of emergency based on the weather. 

Once the Governor declares a state of emergency, then the DOT can either close or limit access to certain roads.  When they do, they have to post a sign that tells you the rules, which is that you can only access those roads if your vehicle s “equipped with tire chains, four-wheel drive with adequate tires for existing conditions, or snow tires with a manufacturer’s all weather rating….”  This means no bald tires, or your personal inspection saying the tires look good to you.  They have to be made for snow.  It also means that just because you have a Jeep, it doesn’t mean that you’re good to go – you also have to have the right kind of tires.

Commercial vehicles, defined as trucks with more than four tires, and busses and the like have to put chains on their outside tires.

Tow trucks are exempt from these rules – we need the tow trucks to be able to get the cars that don’t follow the rules out of the ditch.

If you don’t follow these rules, and if you get into an accident as a result, there is a $1,000.00 penalty. 

Really, you should just stay home.  Unless it is a medical emergency, there isn’t much that’s important enough to get you out of your house.  I’ve lived in Georgia for 30 years, and in all that time the longest anything like this has lasted was 4 days.  Usually it’s only a day or less.  You can wait it out.  It’s not like where  grew up where the snow got so old it turned gray and covered in dirt.  In the meantime, bundle up.  If the power goes out, play a board game with your family or read a book.  As my dad always says, this, too, shall pass.

[1] This is a quote from O.C.G.A. 32-6-5.

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