Is Blowing Grass Clippings In The Road Illegal In South Carolina? [A Look At The Laws]

South Carolina is one of fifty states that are very well aware that there is a potential danger in allowing or purposefully blowing grass clippings into the road. However, the fact is that much of the “blowing” actually comes from the state, city, and county workers. Their job is to keep the shoulders and medians mowed and the trees trimmed. 

There is no criminal law in South Carolina that prohibits the blowing of grass clippings into the road. South Carolina, like most states, has laws against purposefully tossing rubbish into the road, but grass clippings are not included in that equation. 

Several groups and individuals in South Carolina and other states have pushed for and would love for there to be laws against blowing grass clippings into the road, mainly for the sake of motorcyclists, who it affects the most. 

Why Are Grass Clippings Dangerous?

It’s not that dangerous when it comes to cars. Still, grass clippings can cause a domino effect of issues. They are dangerous to a far more considerable degree for those who prefer to ride motorcycles, mopeds or scooters, bicycles, and dirt bikes. 

According to most motorcyclists who have wrecked because of grass clippings on the road, it’s like hitting a patch of black ice. There is far less in the way of rubber real estate on the road when it comes to two-wheeled vehicles. 

Not only that, but balance is everything on a motorcycle or any vehicle with only two wheels, for that matter. Grass clippings become incredibly slick when they are full of moisture or when they are lying across the road after a good rain. 

It also makes it difficult to brake on a motorcycle, as the wheels are much more inclined to lock up rather than stop on friction alone. 

Grass clippings that are all over the road on tight, winding routes are especially dangerous because not only is it possible that a rider might not see them, but they are also incredibly slick when going into a tight corner or turn. 

Are Homeowners Liable for Grass Clippings on the Road?

This also goes for business owners who trim the grass areas near a major road or highway. 

Both homeowners and business owners have been held liable for accidents caused by their clippings. Some Cities, such as Davenport, Iowa, have banned their citizens from blowing grass clippings into the road because they end up in the waterways. 

That means there is precedent for this kind of liability, which should be more than enough to motivate people to avoid getting their grass clippings on the roadway, especially in a high-traffic area. 

In the past, homeowners and business owners have been held liable for several things, such as grass clippings, that create hazardous road conditions. This includes smoke from burning leaves in the yard, gravel from a homeowner’s or business owner’s driveway, visual obstructions, and grass clippings. 

Unfortunately, most people don’t consider these things. It is very rare for courts, or anyone else, to point the finger at state and local workers who cause more grass clippings to end up on the road than anyone else, especially throughout the summer season. 

What Other Hazards Do Grass Clippings Cause on the Roadway?

Grass clippings don’t just lay on the road, causing a slipping hazard for anything and everything on two wheels. They also wash off the road and into culverts, gutters, and drainage systems.

If it is allowed to go unchecked, the grass clippings will eventually clog these things up, creating the domino effect we mentioned earlier. 

Since the drainage system cannot adequately drain the rainwater, it is diverted, which usually means it ends up on the road. 

Roads are designed to drain rainwater quickly and efficiently, even when it comes to heavy thunderstorms. That’s because hydroplaning is a serious and prevalent danger during heavy rainfall. However, if the drainage systems aren’t working correctly, two things tend to happen. 

Firstly, the water may pool up at low points on the road. You’ve probably experienced it before, where everyone slows to a crawl and pushes through heavy puddles, some of which approach the doors and exhaust pipes. 

The second possibility is that the water will flow rapidly across the roadway, diverted from its original path. This creates a severe hydroplaning threat, and if you don’t have decent tread on your tires, it doesn’t matter what you are driving when you hit it. 

Grass Clippings are Potentially Hazardous to Aquatic Life

Many roads are near waterways, and many homeowners use herbicides and insecticides to treat their lawns. During heavy rainfall or a windy day, many of the grass clippings may end up in a pond, lake, river, or another tributary that runs through the area. 

When we mentioned the grass clippings finding their way into the drainage system after they are blown out onto the road, we focused on the potential clogging effect on those systems. However, many of these drainage systems use nothing more than the natural effect of gravity. 

It all has to drain somewhere, and sometimes, there is not a man-made hole for it to drain in, and it simply drains into the nearest lake, pond, or stream, carrying all of the herbicides and insecticides with it. 

This not only endangers the aquatic life close to the shoreline but also affects those that live in deeper waters. The herbicides will eventually separate from the grass clippings, and the chemicals diffuse into the water. 

It also directly affects amphibians, birds, and anything else that comes to the water for drink or food. As they consume it, they also consume the herbicides or insecticides within it. This is why it is often inadvisable to fish in ponds or lakes with homes on their banks. 

Typically, those homes’ back lawns are sloped towards the pond or lake, meaning that anything they treat their lawn with is frequently washed down and into the pond or lake. 

How to Keep Your Lawn Clippings Off the Road

The best thing you can do is bring a leaf blower with you whenever you mow your lawn, and you know that the grass clippings may end up on the road. 

After mowing close to the road, take the time to blow the grass clippings off the road. 

You can also minimize the number of grass clippings that end up on the road by mowing your first three or four lanes close to the road first, manipulating the mower so that the blower is always facing away from the road. 

You only want to blow grass clippings inward and onto your lawn. Besides, grass clippings are beneficial to your grass, so long as you don’t allow them to pile up. 

Also, avoid mowing on extremely windy days since wind is unpredictable and may end up blowing your clippings onto the road, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. 

Final Thoughts

Although South Carolina has no law against blowing grass clippings out into the road, you may still be liable if someone gets into an accident because of them. 

Fortunately, all you need to do is pay attention to where your lawnmower blower points when mowing along the road. Then use the leaf blower to clean up behind yourself. 

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