- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The storm is gone, but for anyone driving on area roads, ice is still a problem — especially when the frozen sheets peel off the vehicles ahead to crash down on the windshields behind.

Police said anyone incurring damage from the suddenly airborne icy chunks would have to turn to their own insurance companies for help — drivers are not generally held liable when ice or snow comes flying off a vehicle.

“That happens after every snowstorm,” said Maryland State Police Cpl. Rob Moroney. “We’ve got quite a few calls. Also, ice is falling off tree branches.”

Cpl. Moroney urged motorists to clean ice from cars before heading out, but there is no law that penalizes a driver who doesn’t. Motorists on the receiving end of flying ice must take their broken windshields or other damage to their own insurance companies to arrange for repairs.

“It’s more of a frightening experience,” Cpl. Moroney said, urging motorists to “let up on the gas,” and make no abrupt lane changes or turns.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Wallace Bouldin, who reported “no major problems” yesterday, also urged motorists to clean off their vehicles, watch out for flying ice, and give police license numbers of cars or trucks spewing ice and snow. He also noted that flying ice is not against the law.

If drivers behind broken windshields can provide license plate numbers and descriptions of the ice-shedding truck or car, police will try to locate the offending driver and owner and tell them what happened, Cpl. Moroney said.

Many drivers of the offending trucks and cars do not realize what a danger their vehicles pose.

Cracked or broken windshields are the most frequent and severe damage, although big squares of ice, usually off the tops of semi-trailer trucks, have caused human injuries, such as shards of glass in the eyes and slashed faces of drivers and passengers in cars that followed.

Companies that repair windshields say the phone is ringing.

“Oh yeah, we’ve had lots of calls,” said Chris Brooks of Auto Glass in Springfield.

“It’s typical,” said Lisa Chavez at Professional Auto Glass in Riverdale. “We’ve got more business since snow and ice.”

The AAA issued a warning to motorists early this week. They were urged to thoroughly brush snow off the roof and scrape ice off the windows, lights and license plates.

“This will give you the optimum visibility and ensure that no large clumps of snow fall off the vehicle once you begin driving,” according to spokeswoman Sue Akey.

Snow crews in the District ended their 12-hour shifts yesterday, as skies cleared and temperatures climbed to just above freezing, loosening slightly the grip that ice and snow have had on the region since Sunday.

Warmer temperatures are predicted for today, but there may be snow flurries late tonight.

“Everything seemed to go very well. We’re very, very happy with the way things turned out,” said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. departments of Public Works and Transportation.

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