Snow-free vehicle mandates pursued in Illinois, New York

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/10/2017

As parts of the Northeast prepare to dig out from this week’s winter storm, legislators in New York and Illinois are addressing concerns about snow and ice removal from atop cars and trucks.

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 or ice.

Rules covering concerns about accumulations atop vehicles are already in place in states that include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Multiple pieces of legislation in the Empire State would set rules for clearing wintry precipitation from cars and trucks.

The first 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. Accumulated snow or ice must be at least two inches of snow or one-half inch of ice.

Violators would face $75 fines.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Queens, A2455 includes exceptions for occasions when snow, sleet or freezing rain falls while the vehicle is in operation.

A second bill from Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, would include $75 fines for failure to make a “reasonable effort” to remove snow or ice accumulated on vehicles. If injury or property damage results, motorists traveling through New York found in violation would face fines between $200 and $1,000. Truck drivers would face fines between $500 and $1,250.

Avella wrote the rule is needed “because snow or ice falling from cars while on slick and busy roads can lead to tragedy.”

He added that the two other tri-state area states – Connecticut and New Jersey – already have rules in place requiring snow and ice be removed from vehicles.

“It is time for New York to follow suit,” Avella wrote in a memo for S1591.

Critics, including OOIDA, say that snow and ice rules are nearly impossible for truck drivers to comply with. They cite a lack of facilities that are readily available to accommodate removal mandates.

Another criticism is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prohibits anyone on the job to climb to such heights without proper safeguards.

The New York bills are in their chamber’s respective transportation committees.

In Illinois, a Senate bill focuses on trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds. Sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, the bill would require the removal of ice and snow from atop trucks.

Violators would face fines starting at $25.

Exceptions would be made for occasions when snow, sleet or freeing rain accumulates on vehicles while they are out on the road.

The bill, SB72, awaits assignment to committee.

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