By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed into law a bill to get tough with truckers and others who fail to clear snow and ice off their vehicles.
Drivers soon will be responsible for making “all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow” from the hood, trunk and roof of the motor vehicle, truck cab, trailer or intermodal freight container. Violators would face up to $75 fines.
OOIDA executives were angered by the bill’s passage. They cite concerns about requiring people to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.
Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, said the mandate is virtually impossible to comply with.
“It amounts to feel-good legislation that is going to lead to the injury of drivers,” Rajkovacz said.
Drivers will not be liable for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road if they are traveling to a location with snow and ice removal equipment or technology, provided they have not already passed such a location before being stopped.
The new rule also specifies that drivers won’t be responsible for accumulation while the vehicle, trailer or container was not in their possession.
The effective date has been delayed until October 2010. The grace period is intended to give truck operations time to comply with the rule. Revenue from fines will be used for things such as a grant program to provide incentives to encourage private companies to install snow and ice removal facilities around the state.
Supporters say the changes will not only help protect personal property, but also help save lives.
But truckers say the state is not showing any concern for them.
“It gets tiresome when they talk about highway safety, but they don’t give a damn about the truck driver,” Rajkovacz said.
Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member David Sweetman had a similar response.
“Since when does anyone in any stage of our government – federal, state or local – really care about the welfare of truck drivers and my health? If they cared, they would not require me to turn my truck off in 20-degree weather,” Sweetman, who has a New Jersey baseplate, told Land Line. “This is just one more brick in the wall.” LL