The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) warns those who are planning to explore and enjoy the NH backcountry this winter to be careful when and where they park their vehicles. Drivers are cautioned about leaving vehicles parked along the roadway. Anyone leaving a vehicle unattended on the side of the road runs the risk of breaking the law and having their vehicle towed away by law enforcement.
Backcountry users are encouraged to park in clearly marked and designated parking areas, typically found at the summit of mountain passes and at some trail heads. However, a number of parking areas available during the spring, summer and fall are not plowed for winter use. Additionally, those that are plowed, particularly those maintained by NHDOT, are not plowed during storms. These lots may have a single lane plowed if the lot is used as a plow route turnaround or used as a plow driver rest stop, but, for the most part these lots are plowed as part of storm cleanup during regular work hours, Monday thru Friday.
Some areas along the highway may provide ample room to park several feet away and off the asphalt. But NHDOT reminds vehicle owners that they run the risk of being trapped with snow pushed by the plow. Vehicles left on the side of the road also make the plowing job difficult for road maintenance crews.
The primary objective of the NHDOT snowfighters is to clear the roadway as quickly and efficiently as possible so that the highway is made passable and safe for all travelers. The NHDOT and contract plow drivers work in all weather conditions. When visibility is low and a plow comes upon a vehicle parked on the side of the road, there is potential for a collision. The vehicle could be damaged by the passing plow. Plus, this puts our operator’s safety at risk and operations get behind schedule because of needed repairs or replacement the plow equipment.
NHDOT’S Winter message is OBEY THE LAW:
NH State law (RSA 262:32) allows for the towing of any vehicle that is “obstructing snow removal or highway maintenance operations.” Additionally, residents and visitors are reminded there is no parking at any time along any Interstate highway, including I-93 (Franconia Notch Parkway) in Franconia Notch.
In the past this issue has arisen in the White Mountain Region where some hikers heading for recreation in the mountains have hindered winter maintenance operations by parking on the side of state roads. With the increase in recreational use, the NHDOT wants to avoid conflicts between parked vehicles and maintenance operations which may adversely impact the recreational experience in the state.
If a vehicle is encountered which impacts snow removal activities, it has been the NHDOT’s long-standing policy to call department dispatchers to summon police to the location to check on it. It is at the discretion of police on what action is taken, which may include a ticket or the vehicle being towed.