New York lawmakers revisit snow and ice removal

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/1/2013

Getting out on the roads after a significant snowstorm or ice storm often can be tricky for even the best drivers. Two New York lawmakers have offered bills for consideration that are intended to reduce one risk factor for truckers and other drivers.

Sen. Martin Dilan, D-Brooklyn, and Sen. Jack Martins, D-Brooklyn, are concerned about accumulations of ice or snow that fall from atop various vehicles. They want to get tough with drivers who fail to clear the wintry precipitation off their vehicles.

Dilan’s bill would permit police to cite truckers and other drivers for failure to act. Meanwhile, Martins’ legislation is focused on smaller vehicles.

“When vehicles travel with accumulated amounts of snow or ice on top of their roof, it is very likely to be blinding to other vehicles traveling behind them and cause accidents,” Dilan wrote in a memo on the bill. “This legislation will help to prevent those types of accidents.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and countless truck drivers are opposed to rules that permit police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow and ice.

Martins’ bill – S841 – would exempt large trucks from the snow removal requirement. Specifically, vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds would be required to be cleared.

Martins’ office did not return multiple calls requesting comment.

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. In Connecticut, a similar rule is slated to take effect December 31.

Dilan’s bill – S395 – would set up significant fines for violators. Motorists and other drivers of small vehicles would face fines between $150 and $850. Truck drivers would face fines between $450 and $1,250.

Emergency vehicles and car transporters would be exempt from the rule. Any driver determined to be “disabled” would also be let off the hook.

Critics, including OOIDA, 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, and doing it in less-than desirable conditions.

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

Martins’ bill would authorize fines for smaller vehicles starting at $50 and increasing to as much as $1,000, if injury results. Incidents that result in injury could also include one or two points on offenders’ licenses.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York, click here.

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