New York bill mandates snow and ice removal

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/6/2015

Getting out on the roads after a significant snowstorm or ice storm often can be tricky for even the best drivers. One New York lawmaker has offered for consideration a bill that is intended to reduce one risk factor for truckers and other drivers.

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Queens, is concerned about accumulations of ice or snow that fall from atop various vehicles. He wants to get tough with drivers who fail to clear the wintry precipitation off their vehicles.

DenDekker’s 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.

“The falling of piles of snow and ice from motor vehicles during the winter months has become a major hazard for motorists,” DenDekker wrote. “The failure to remove these mounds of snow or ice from motor vehicles prior to operating on a street or highway can cause damage and a loss of visibility to other vehicles.”

The issue of snow and ice removal is not a new topic in many states in the northeast U.S. Since October 2010 New Jersey has allowed police to ticket drivers simply for having snow or ice atop their vehicles. Connecticut and Rhode Island have similar rules in place.

A Pennsylvania bill would also impose a removal mandate.

In New York, DenDekker’s bill vehicles found with at least two inches of snow or one-half inch of ice would be in violation.

Accumulations that occur while vehicles are on the roadway would exempt drivers from the clearance rule. Emergency vehicles and any drivers determined to be “disabled” would also be let off the hook.

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 from climbing to such heights.

DenDekker’s bill, A4223, is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

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