Pennsylvania Senate approves snow-free vehicle mandate
October 25, 2019
An effort is halfway through the Pennsylvania statehouse to address concerns about snow and ice removal from atop cars and trucks.
State law already allows police to ticket car and truck drivers between $200 and $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death.
The Senate voted unanimously this week for the second year in a row to advance a bill that is intended to be proactive on the issue of ice removal from vehicles. The bill, SB114, now moves to the House where the chamber did not take up the bill for consideration one year ago.
Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, the bill would authorize law enforcement to issue tickets solely for failure to clear their vehicles of snow and ice.
For years, Boscola has pursued the change at the statehouse. She has said her bill is about safety and responsibility.
“Hopefully, it would increase public awareness and make people more vigilant about clearing snow and ice from their vehicles,” Boscola said in prior remarks.
Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed my legislation, SB114, that would require drivers to remove ice/snow from their vehicles within 24 hrs following heavy storms – I hope my House colleagues will act soon on the bill. pic.twitter.com/MC0jLNhHGj
— Senator Lisa Boscola (@SenLisaBoscola) October 22, 2019
Drivers would 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 bill would include an additional protection allowing police to ticket drivers between $25 and $75 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.
The bill has moved to the House Transportation Committee.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to rules that permit police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow or ice. They point out that facilities are not readily available to accommodate clearance mandates on trucks. Another problem is the practicality of requiring people to climb atop large vehicles, and doing it in less-than desirable conditions.
“The accumulation of snow and ice on any vehicle has the potential to negatively impact highway safety,” OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek has said. “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.
He points out that in many cases it might also violate occupational safety laws.
“So it’s a problem with no realistic or meaningful solution, and imposing significant fines on truckers will do nothing to address the underlying issue.”
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