Pennsylvania lawmaker pursues snow-free vehicle mandate

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/26/2015

As parts of Pennsylvania prepare for a snowstorm, one state lawmaker is renewing her push to permit police to pull over truckers and other drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow and ice.

The issue of snow and ice removal is not a new topic in many states in the northeast U.S. Connecticut and Rhode Island have rules in place to require vehicles to be kept clear of snow or ice. New Jersey also allows police to ticket drivers simply for having wintry precipitation atop their vehicles.

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, is again trying to get changes made to stiffen punishment for failure to keep trucks clear of snow and ice. Her two previous efforts at the statehouse failed to advance from committee.

“Too many truckers let highway winds do their snow removal for them,” Boscola said in a news release. “Snow can easily freeze, harden and turn into chunks of ice that can dislodge from a moving vehicle.”

Her first bill focuses solely on trucks weighing in excess of 48,000 pounds.

Boscola said SB94 would help reduce the risk of ice chunks falling from large trucks, “which are often the most dangerous in terms of snow and ice accumulation.”

The second bill, SB93, would apply the ice and snow removal mandate to all vehicles.

State law already allows police to ticket violators between $200 and $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death. Boscola’s bills would boost the maximum fine to $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.

“While public awareness outreach is the key to this process, we must underscore the seriousness of this issue with the force of law,” Boscola stated.

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

Critics, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, say that snow and ice rules are nearly impossible for truck drivers to comply with. They point out that facilities are not readily available in states to accommodate such mandates on trucks. Another problem is the practicality of requiring people to climb atop large vehicles in less-than-desirable conditions.

The bills await consideration in the state’s Senate Transportation Committee.

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