Four states pursue snow-free vehicle mandates

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, May 12, 2017

In preparation for the return of winter weather by year’s end, state officials from the central and eastern parts of the country are taking time to address concerns about snow and ice removal from atop cars and trucks.

OOIDA and countless truck drivers are opposed to rules that permit police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow or ice. They point out that facilities are not readily available in states to accommodate clearance mandates on trucks. Another problem is the practicality of requiring people to climb atop large vehicles, and doing it in less-than desirable conditions.

Rules covering concerns about accumulations atop vehicles are already in place in states that include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania law already allows police to ticket car and truck drivers between $200 and $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to advance one bill that is intended to be proactive. Specifically, the bill would permit police to pull over truckers and other drivers solely for failure to clear their vehicles of snow and ice.

“Current law says you can be fined if it causes serious bodily injury or death. That’s not preventative at all,” said Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton.

Boscola told committee members her bill is about raising awareness for a potentially hazardous issue. She added that police would not be required to issue tickets.

Drivers would be required to make “reasonable efforts” to remove snow or ice from all parts of their vehicles within 24 hours of a weather event.

Offenders would face a maximum fine of $1,500, as well as include an additional protection that would allow police to ticket drivers between $25 and $75 for failure to clear snow or ice before they take to the roads.

Drivers would be excused for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road.

Truck operators would also be excused if they are on their way to a facility to remove accumulated snow or ice. In addition, violations would not be issued if compliance would cause the trucker to violate any federal or state law or regulation regarding workplace safety, or if it would be a health or safety threat.

The bill, SB435, awaits further consideration on the Senate floor.

A Delaware bill on the move would set fines between $25 and $75 for failure to remove snow or ice. Incidents that result in serious bodily injury or death would result in penalties between $200 and $1,000 for motorists. Truck drivers would face fines between $500 and $1,500.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance the bill, SB57, to exempt drivers for accumulations while the vehicle is in operation.

Similar efforts are underway in New York.

The first bill would permit police to cite truckers and other drivers for failure to act when traveling on roadways with posted speeds in excess of 40 mph. Accumulated snow or ice must be at least two inches of snow or one-half inch of ice.

Violators would face $75 fines.

A2455 includes exceptions for occasions when snow, sleet or freezing rain falls while the vehicle is in operation.

A second bill, S1591, would include $75 fines for failure to make a “reasonable effort” to remove snow or ice accumulated on vehicles. If injury or property damage results, motorists traveling through New York found in violation would face fines between $200 and $1,000. Truck drivers would face fines between $500 and $1,250.

In Illinois, a Senate bill focuses on trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds. Sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, SB72 would require the removal of ice and snow from atop trucks.

Violators would face fines starting at $25.

Exceptions would be made for occasions when snow, sleet or freeing rain accumulates on vehicles while they are out on the road.

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