As winter settles in across the county in the coming months, police are reminding drivers about the importance of cleaning all snow off vehicles before leaving home for the day.

"I've always looked at it as a common sense thing," said Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye.

LaHaye said officers see a fair amount of vehicles on the road that are either covered in snow — sometimes traveling with more than a foot of snow on the roof — or with windshields that remain ice-covered with the exception of a small spot on the drivers' side.

LaHaye said he is largely concerned about a drivers' ability to see what's going on around them, and by extension, the safety of other drivers who are on the road.

"In that situation it puts everybody in danger," said LaHaye. "We would ask the public to take the extra five minutes in the morning to clean off their vehicle before they leave."

LaHaye said in some situations, drivers who fail to clear snow from the roof of their vehicle might find themselves in a tough spot if that snow were to blow off, strike another vehicle and cause an accident.

"The insurance company can say you're liable if snow flies off your car and causes an accident," said LaHaye.

A police officer would have to determine which vehicle the snow came from before any insurance company could take action against the offending driver, and LaHaye said the matter would be considered a civil case at that point — meaning the parties involved would have to work it out between them or head to small claims court.

"What I would tell people is safety first, common sense second," said LaHaye.