Atlanta weather | APD: Move your (illegally-parked) car immediately

The Atlanta Police Department has clarified its plans to tow parked cars.

Early Thursday, police warned that vehicles in the roadway could get banged up by snow removal equipment, so they said abandoned vehicles could be towed at the owner's expense.

But by Thursday evening they were softening their message: Legally parked vehicles will not be towed and don't have to be moved, but the city is still recommending removal.

"The only cars that are subject to towing are those that are impeding the flow of traffic, and deemed a traffic hazard," said Officer Kim Jones of the Atlanta Police Department. "Owners are urged to remove those immediately. Other cars that have been abandoned, but do not represent a hazard, will be tagged per city policy and removed within five days."

Jones said Atlanta was "only recommending removal to make it easier for heavy equipment to maneuver and to make cleanup efforts more efficient."

Earlier Thursday, police suggested that even legally parked vehicles on city streets could be towed.

The announcement followed one by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which asked drivers who abandoned their vehicles earlier in the week because they were stuck in the ice and snow to remove them.

The agency also reminded commuters that the highways aren't race tracks.

“We are seeing a lot of hazardous driving this morning,” DOT officials said in a statement sent to the media specifically to warn motorists to slow down and not tailgate.

DOT also wants drivers to avoid the two left lanes of the highways, as many are still slick with ice.

As for those abandoned vehicles, leaving them on the side of the road means it’s going to take authorities that much longer to clear the roads, DOT said.

“Abandoned vehicles on roadways are hampering clean-up efforts. Effective ice removal cannot occur while vehicles remain in highway travel lanes and on shoulders,” DOT officials said in a statement.

State and local governments have been hard-pressed to clear major highways and secondary roads. Some haven’t even tried to address residential streets.