Rhode Island bill draws attention to snow and ice removal

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/9/2015

A Rhode Island bill would reduce one risk factor for truckers and other drivers on roadways following a snow or ice storm.

Rep. Joseph Trillo, R-Warwick, introduced a bill that addresses concern about accumulations of ice or snow that fall from atop various vehicles while driving. He wants to increase the fine for drivers who fail to clear the wintry precipitation off their vehicles.

The issue of snow and ice removal is not a new topic in Rhode Island and many states in the northeast U.S. Connecticut and New Jersey have rules in place to require vehicles to be kept clear of snow or ice. Existing Rhode Island law authorizes $85 fines for driving a vehicle with significant accumulation of ice or snow.

The Rhode Island State Police late last month cautioned travelers about the hazards associated with failing to clean ice and snow from their vehicles before driving.

“The result is airborne ice and snow that can damage other vehicles and cause accidents when other motorists swerve or brake suddenly,” said a post on the State Police website.

Trillo’s bill would permit police to issue $125 citations to truckers and other drivers for failure to act.

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.

In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prohibits anyone on the job to climb to such heights.

The bill, HB5765, is in the House Judiciary Committee.

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