Five states pursue snow-free vehicle mandates

January 5, 2018

Keith Goble


In the wake of this week’s snow event and the onset of freezing temperatures along the East Coast, officials in multiple states could soon take up for consideration efforts to address concerns about snow and ice removal from atop cars and trucks.

OOIDA and countless truck drivers are 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 in states 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.

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.

One Virginia bill would add the state to the list. Delegate Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, has introduced a bill to permit police to pull over motorists and truck drivers for failing to clear their vehicles of snow and ice before hitting the road.

Violators would face $100 fines.

The bill, HB207, awaits assignment to committee.

Similar efforts in other states have carried over from 2017 legislative sessions for possible consideration for the coming year.

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

A bill awaiting possible Senate floor discussion is intended to be proactive. Specifically, SB435 would authorize law enforcement to issue tickets solely for failure to clear their vehicles of snow and ice.

“Current law says you can be fined if its causes serious bodily injury or death. That’s not preventative at all,” Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, said during a previous committee hearing.

Boscola added that her bill is about raising awareness for a potentially hazardous issue. She added that police would not be required to issue tickets.

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. The bill would include an additional protection allowing police to ticket drivers for fines of $25 to $75 for failure to clear snow or ice before they take to the roads.

Drivers would be excused for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road.

Truck operators would also 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.

One bill nearing passage at the Delaware statehouse would set fines of $25 to $75 for failure to remove snow or ice. Incidents that result in serious bodily injury or death would result in penalties of $200 to $1,000 for motorists. Truck drivers would face fines of $500 to $1,500.

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill to exempt drivers for accumulations while the vehicle is in operation. SB57 awaits further consideration on the House floor. If approved there, it would move to the governor’s desk. The Senate already approved it by unanimous consent.

Similar efforts are underway in New York.

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. Accumulations must be at least 2 inches of snow or one-half inch of ice.

Violators would face $75 fines.

A2455 includes exceptions for occasions when snow, sleet or freezing rain falls while the vehicle is in operation.

A second bill, S1591, 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 of $500 to $1,250.

In Illinois, a Senate bill focuses on trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds. Sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, SB72 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.