By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a law you may not know about that you could be breaking this winter. In Minnesota, drivers are required to clear their car windows of snow before driving. Scraping may seem pretty standard, but a lot of people aren’t doing it. Officers say that’s caused a string of accidents.

At Prior Lake High School, Senior Emily Gulstad learned something new.

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“Driving in the parking lot, you see a lot of cars that still have the snow and ice on the vehicle,” she said. “In such a busy area, it’s really dangerous to have all that snow.”

It’s risky business for another reason, too.

“I think a lot of the students don’t know it’s actually against the law to completely scrape the vehicle,” Gulstad said.

She said her peers are often in a hurry and don’t scrape — something her elders have taken note of.

“I just thought it was cool she noticed it and brought it over to us,” said Lt. Randy Hofstad with Prior Lake Police.

Gulstad teamed up with the Community Safety Advisory Committee to launch an awareness campaign, which is something Lt. Hofstad says is well-timed.

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“We are seeing a lot more incidents where cars are traveling without cleaning off their windshields and front windows prior to hitting the road,” he said.

Hofstad said that’s exactly why someone crashed into a police cruiser last month.

“I don’t know if they necessarily don’t know or if they’re just in a hurry to get going,” he said.

Gulstad said that’s usually the case at her school but says you don’t have to be young to do something.

“It’s true,” she said. “We sometimes take risks that we shouldn’t but it’s not just us though, too, I know a lot of adults do the same thing.”

And no matter what age we are, all of us who drive are required to clear not only the windshield but the driver’s and passengers’ side windows. And if you think, “I’ll just use my washer fluid to do it,” Lt. Hofstad said that can actually make for a more hazardous windshield if you don’t scrape first.

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Obviously drivers are dealing with a lot more frost and snow but something else Lt. Hofstad thinks is making this year worse? It’s so cold that drivers don’t want to stand outside and take the time to do it. But officials say it’s something we really need to do.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield