Connecticut advances bill to require snow, ice removal; speed cameras dead

| 3/25/2008

A bill on the move in the Connecticut statehouse would force car and truck drivers to remove ice and snow from their vehicles before taking to roadways in the state. Gov. M. Jodi Rell included the snow and ice effort in her proposed budget.

State law already allows police to pull over drivers for failure to secure a load. But the Legislature’s Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill – SB298 – that specifically targets snow and ice.

Violators would face $250 fines if police determine that snow or ice poses a threat to others or has damaged another vehicle. Drivers would not be liable for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road.

A similar House bill – HB5042 – would authorize fines between $200 and $1,000.

House Speaker Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, cited complaints from constituents about wintry precipitation flying from cars and trucks when he introduced the House version.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only states to have specific snow and ice removal rules on the books. Supporters say a specific law for snow and ice removal in Connecticut would make enforcement easier.

Others say the bill would create a significant deterrent for not cleaning off a truck following a snow or ice storm.

Trucking industry officials in the state say the rule would be nearly impossible to comply with. They also cite concerns about requiring people to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.

Instead, they say the issue needs to be raised at the federal level where uniform regulations should be adopted.

SB298 now awaits clearance for consideration on the Senate floor. HB5042 remains in the Joint Transportation Committee.

Speed cameras
A bill has died that sought to install speed-enforcement cameras along a stretch of Interstate 95. Along with snow and ice removal of vehicles, the governor’s proposed budget included posting cameras in the East Lyme area.

The Legislature’s Public Safety Committee voted 13-9 to kill a bill – SB41 – authorizing a pilot program that would have allowed the state to take snapshots of speeding vehicles and mail the citations to their owners.

Gov. Rell was calling for $250,000 for traffic cameras to catch speeders along I-95 in southeastern Connecticut.

Talk about camera enforcement in Connecticut has drawn a lot of attention in the wake of an early November crash involving a tanker truck on I-95 in the Old Lyme/East Lyme area of the Connecticut Turnpike. The wreck shut a portion of the highway for hours. Three people died and others were seriously hurt.

Lawmakers were unwilling to make Connecticut the first state to post speed cameras on an interstate highway. They cited concerns about government intrusion. Others said there isn’t conclusive proof the cameras are a deterrent to speeding and to reducing wrecks.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Connecticut in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor