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      Rules of the winter road

      We're now well into the winter season and that means braving the winter roads. Our Facebook viewers are concerned about snow that hasn't been cleared from vehicles before driving. How much is acceptable, and is it legal?

      Every driver knows taking the time to clean all of that snow off our vehicles can be a pain. But if you don't put the time into making sure you've got a clear 360 degree line of sight, not only could you create a hazard on the roadways, you could also face a fine.

      It's a time consuming chore every U.P. motorist faces during the winter season, but taking shortcuts can be costly.

      Facebook fan Nancy Charlesworth Pawlowski writes, "Over the years, I've almost hit two pedestrians due to my laziness of not cleaning off my windows and car properly. Now I always take the time to do it."

      According to Michigan State Police, that's a fairly common habit.

      "You'll see a car going down the road, covered in snow and you'll see a little scrape through the ice, just so the driver can barely see through," says Sergeant Kevin Dowling with the Negaunee Post of the Michigan State Police.

      That's a violation of the law, and the driver could be issued a citation. According to the state police, the windshield, front drivers side and passenger windows must be completely clear. If you don't have two rearview mirrors, you also must clear your rear window.

      Head and taillights must be visible from 500 feet away; that's not likely to be possible if they're covered with snow.

      Failure to follow these regulations could lead to a fine.

      "If a trooper sees that going down the road, you're going to be stopped," Dowling says. "Minimally, you're going to have that person stop and clear those windows off before they continue or we may even take enforcement action."

      The cost of a citation depends on the regulations in that jurisdiction. But, Lowes Home Improvement in Marquette says you can stock up now on the tools that will make the task easier for a financial and safety bargain.

      They recommend de-icer fluid, a scraper brush, shovel and no-slip shoe covers for every vehicle. They say the busiest time to buy these products is December and January.

      "They find they don't have it in their car, and they stop in on their way back from wherever to pick it up because they had an incident," says Lawn and Garden Manager Jon Siltala.

      We had several comments on our Facebook page from viewers who have seen vehicles on the road without clear windshields. Michigan State Police remind motorists that they should report any vehicle that creates a hazard on the road by calling and referring the incident to the state police post so they can follow up.