Pennsylvania bill would toughen snow-free vehicle rule

| 7/2/2007

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is calling for the state to strengthen its law that encourages car and truck drivers to clear snow and ice off their vehicles.

State law enacted in 2006 allows police to ticket violators between $200 and $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death. The bill’s passage was spurred by the death of a woman resulting from ice that fell from a tractor-trailer and crashed through her vehicle’s windshield.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Nothhampton, said current law is a good first step but it doesn’t go far enough. She is calling for the passage of a bill that would allow police to ticket drivers for failure to clear snow or ice before they take to the roads. Violators would face fines ranging from $25 to $75.

The bill also would increase the maximum fine for commercial and non-commercial drivers in violation of existing law to $1,500.

A similar rule is being pursued in New Jersey.

Boscola’s bill would make drivers responsible for making “all reasonable efforts to remove all accumulated ice or snow from the motor vehicle, including the hood, trunk and roof.”

Trucking industry officials in the state say that while they support existing rules, the latest proposal would be nearly impossible to comply with. They also cite concerns about requiring people to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.

Supporters say that while cleaning tops of vehicles might be inconvenient, not doing it presents a significant danger.

In addition, the bill would not hold drivers liable for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road. Boscola said she doesn’t want to require drivers to make repeated stops during a storm to comply.

The bill – SB651 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor