Snow-free vehicle mandate a no-go in West Virginia

| 4/5/2010

Truckers concerned about a possible new law in West Virginia mandating the removal of snow and ice from atop vehicles can breathe a sigh of relief.

A bill from Delegate Sharon Spencer, D-Kanawha, to get tough with drivers in the state who fail to clear wintry precipitation off their vehicles died after it got stuck in the House Roads and Transportation Committee. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued a Call to Action to its West Virginia members shortly after the bill was sent to the committee, encouraging them to contact committee members about the bill.

Spencer’s bill attempted to follow in the footsteps of a New Jersey law that takes effect later this year. It applies to commercial and non-commercial vehicles.

The decision by New Jersey lawmakers a year ago to endorse the legislation angered OOIDA and countless truck drivers who have long opposed what they say is legislation that sets truckers up to fail. That rule is slated to take effect this October.

The West Virginia bill was very similar. HB4526 sought to permit police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow and ice. Drivers would have been responsible for making “all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow” from the hood, trunk and roof of the motor vehicle, truck cab, trailer or intermodal freight container.

Spencer said her bill was intended to target people who get behind the wheel knowing perfectly well that their vehicles have an excessive amount of snow or ice built up over a few days.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said such rules are nearly impossible to comply with. He also cited concerns about people feeling compelled to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.

“This is the type of effort where drivers are screwed into failure with the only benefit being law enforcement writing them a ticket and stealing their hard-earned money,” Rajkovacz said.

Delegate Spencer told Land Line even before her bill met its demise that she is open to discussion to improve the bill “so it just affects those who are the worst offenders while protecting those who aren’t.”

The issue can be brought back for consideration during the 2011 regular session.

To view other legislative activities of interest for West Virginia in 2010, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to