New Pennsylvania law authorizes apportioned registrations, vehicle snow and ice removal

August 17, 2022

Keith Goble

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A new law in Pennsylvania covers snow and ice removal from atop vehicles, and apportioned registrations.

Previously SB1094, Act 90 includes a provision that addresses the winter driving concern of snow and ice that accumulates atop cars and trucks.

Pennsylvania law has allowed police to ticket car and truck drivers for fines of $200 to $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill to require drivers to remove accumulated ice or snow before driving on roadways.

Law enforcement is authorized to issue tickets solely for failure to clear their vehicles of snow and ice. In addition to trucks, mass transit vehicles, buses, and school buses are covered by the rule.

Drivers will be required to make “reasonable efforts” to remove snow or ice from all parts of their vehicles within 24 hours of a weather event.

Offenders would face a maximum fine of $1,500 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death. The new law includes an additional protection allowing police to ticket drivers $50 for failure to clear snow or ice before they take to the roads.

Truck operators would be excused if they are on their way to a facility to remove accumulated snow or ice. In addition, violations would not be issued if compliance would cause the trucker to violate any federal or state law or regulation regarding workplace safety, or if it would be a health or safety threat.

Enforcement will be limited to highways. The new law takes effect next month.

Public awareness touted

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, led the pursuit at the statehouse for much of the past two decades to get the changes enacted.

Act 90 is dubbed “Christine’s Law.” The rule is named for Christine Lambert of Palmer Township, Penn. Lambert died on Christmas Day 2005, after the vehicle she was riding in was struck by ice dislodged from a passing truck that crashed through her windshield.

“Act 90 is first and foremost about public safety,” Boscola said in a news release. “The goal of Christine’s Law is to increase public awareness and make people more vigilant about clearing snow and ice from their vehicles so that the tragedy that befallen to the Lamberts don’t happen to other families.”

OOIDA concern

The Association has concern about rules that allow police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow or ice. OOIDA points out that facilities are not readily available to accommodate clearance mandates on trucks. Another problem is the practicality of rules that appear to require people to climb atop large vehicles, and do so in less-than-desirable conditions.

The truckers group says the accumulation of snow and ice on any vehicle has the potential to negatively impact highway safety.

“However, when it comes to commercial motor vehicles, there’s really no practical or safe way of removing it from the top of a trailer, especially during winter weather conditions.”

The Association does note that the new law does “appear to address some of the safety issues that OOIDA and others have raised through the years.”

Apportioned registration

A separate provision in Act 90 is touted to benefit truck drivers and the state transportation department.

The new rule requires the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to stagger the expiration dates of commercial vehicles apportioned registrations.

Pennsylvania regulations have mandated every apportioned vehicle registration to expire annually on May 31.

Advocates for staggering expiration dates said the single expiration date has historically caused an annual backlog at the agency. They added that there was no need for PennDOT to require every apportioned registration to expire at the same time.

The new law provides at least four renewal periods each year. The department is authorized to pro-rate registration as the new expiration dates are created.

Pennsylvania becomes the eighth state to stagger registrations quarterly. There are 40 states that stagger monthly.

OOIDA welcomes change

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says staggered registrations benefit members responsible for purchasing and renewing their own plates.

The Association estimates it has 3,000 to 4,000 members residing in the state who are affected.

OOIDA has said the system that expires all apportioned registrations at the same time is “chaotic at best and creates an unnecessary backlog.” LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Pennsylvania.

 

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.