Pennsylvania takes first step to adopt snow, ice removal mandate

June 20, 2019

Keith Goble

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A renewed effort at the Pennsylvania statehouse to addresses concerns about snow and ice removal from atop cars and trucks has taken the first step toward passage.

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

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday, June 19, to advance a bill that is intended to be proactive on the issue of ice removal from vehicles. The Senate voted unanimously one year ago to advance the effort. House lawmakers, however, did not take the issue up for discussion.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, is again behind the bill to authorize law enforcement to issue tickets solely for failure to clear their vehicles of snow and ice.

In prepared remarks, she 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.

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.

As written, 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 snow and ice removal bill, SB114, has moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The next stop would be the Senate floor.

OOIDA reaction

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.”

Keith Goble

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.

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