Winter is coming – and with it comes snow, sleet, and freezing rain. In the Philadelphia area, the average yearly snowfall is 22.4 inches.
Winter driving is dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement every winter. Pennsylvania is one of the top five deadliest states for wintertime car accidents, often caused, at least in part, by poor visibility and road conditions. Be careful out there!
Another hazard, a preventable hazard, is also part of winter driving. While viewed by many as a harmless prank, PennDot cautions against throwing snowballs at cars due to the risk of causing an accident. A snowball thrown at a car can break a car’s windshield or cause a car accident by distracting the driver or causing the driver to swerve into adjacent or oncoming vehicles, or even pedestrians.
Another so-called prank, referred to as “dinging,” can also cause serious car accidents — when children or teens throw rocks off of overpasses onto the road below. These incidents can result in loss of life and severe life-changing injuries. In a worst-case scenario caused by “dinging,” five teenagers in Michigan allegedly threw a rock off of an overpass, striking a car below and killing a young father who was a passenger. The physical pain and emotional heartbreak caused to the victim and his family are immeasurable.
A similar incident occurred on a Pennsylvania highway in 2014, when teens threw a rock off of an overpass and severely injured an Ohio woman who was a passenger in a car. She suffered a severe brain injury that left her unable to care for herself.
There are many videos posted online made by children as they throw snowballs and other objects at cars as “pranks.” A video transcript of the 911 call made after a rock came crashing through a Pennsylvania woman’s windshield contrasts the real danger. These are not pranks and they are certainly not harmless.
A Legislative Bill is pending that would require protective fencing on all new and extensively renovated overpasses in Pennsylvania to thwart these types of incidents. In addition, children and teens should be warned about the consequences of throwing snowballs or any object at moving vehicular traffic.