New Hampshire officers issue tickets, orders for snow and ice removal
March 5, 2019
MARCH 6, 2019 –This story has been updated to include comments from Bob Sculley, president of the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association.
The New Hampshire State Police tweeted a photo Monday morning of an unidentified individual cleaning snow and ice off the top of a tractor-trailer as part of the patrol’s effort to publicize its enforcement campaign of the state’s negligent driver citation.
— NHSP (@NH_StatePolice) March 4, 2019
“The law goes for all! #JessicasLaw #clearthesnowbeforeyougo #NHSP #TroopB,” the patrol tweeted.
“Jessica’s Law” is the popular name given to RSA 265:79-b, Negligent Driving, which can result in a fine of $250 to $500 for a first offense, and $500 to $1,000 for a second and subsequent offenses.
The law was originally passed by the New Hampshire legislature in 2001 in response to the death of 20-year-old Jessica Smith, who was killed in 1999 when ice flew off the top of a tractor-trailer and hit a state plow truck, resulting in a head-on collision with Jessica’s car, according to The John W. King New Hampshire Law Library.
Video tweeted by ABC-affiliate WMUR 9 shows two men on the roofs of two separate truck trailers, removing ice and snow.
— Ray Brewer (@RayBrewerWMUR) March 4, 2019
According to Sgt. Bill Burke, assistant commander of NHSP Troop G in Concord, N.H., statewide enforcement on Monday resulted in at least 14 warnings to drivers of cars and trucks, and 13 summons, including eight issued to trucks.
While the statute doesn’t specifically require the removal of snow and ice from the tops of vehicles before they can travel again, Burke says officers require the vehicles to be cleaned off before they can travel again.
“We look at it as more of a liability thing,” Burke said in an interview with Land Line on Tuesday. “That’s why we have them clean it off.”
Burke said he did not know if the individuals in the tweets were the drivers of the trucks in question or if they were workers from different towing companies that the state contracts with to remove ice and snow from trailer roofs. He says typically the state police will try to work with a commercial vehicle driver or company to remove the snow and ice from the trailer. If a driver or company decides not to remove the ice and snow themselves, Burke says state police can offer the name of a towing company to come out and remove the hazards.
“We don’t want someone up there, falling off the trailer and getting hurt,” he said. “How they (the driver or company) do it, that’s up to them. We want everybody to be safe, and we’ve had several instances where chunks of ice have come off vehicles, hit other vehicles and caused severe accidents. That’s why we enforce this so much.”
Burke said the state police’s enforcement was not only for commercial vehicles, but passenger vehicles as well. The State Police tweeted several photos of passenger vehicles that were pulled over for violations.
Bob Sculley, president of the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association says he thinks social media has played a role in drawing attention to the state patrol’s enforcement efforts recently. But he says he hasn’t received a lot of complaints from member motor carriers.
“The majority that get pulled over are cars,” he said. “I am not aware of greater amounts of this than the year before. I just think there’s more public focus (because of social media).”
Sculley says many local motor carriers devised ways of clearing snow and ice from their trailers, including driving under brushes. He also said law enforcement typically will address the ice and snow removal issue with a truck when the driver is at a rest area or scale house, rather than on the side of the highway.