Two Bills Heading to the Senate Could Prevent Serious Wrecks on Pennsylvania Highways
While a new year is upon us, winter still has an iron grip on Pennsylvania. With several weeks of possibly wintry weather still ahead, two new bills heading to the state senate could prevent you from being involved in a serious wreck—but it could also cost you big money if you are caught out of compliance.
Many states in the northeast United States currently have laws regarding snow and ice on top of trucks and cars, including Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In these states, you can be pulled over and ticketed for failure to keep your car clear of snow and ice. While Pennsylvania law does currently address winter precipitation buildup on vehicles, it only states that a driver is in violation if the snow or ice causes injury or death.
Senator Lisa Boscola is trying to make the current law more proactive, introducing SB94 and SB93 to the state senate. SB94 focuses on snow and ice removal from trucks and trailers over 48,000 pounds, while SB93 addresses snow and ice removal mandates for all vehicles. Two previous efforts from Senator Boscola failed in early stages, but as the bills remain in the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration, many are hopeful that the third time is the charm.
Why Is This Safety Issue Being Addressed Now?
Boscola’s earlier efforts in passing legislation regarding snow and ice accumulation on vehicles were inspired by the 2005 death of Pennsylvania Christine Lambert. On Christmas day, Lambert was killed when a piece of ice fell off a truck and through the windshield of her car. Soon after, Pennsylvania’s current law on snow and ice accumulation was introduced—but now, Boscola wants to take it a step further.
Living in a winter climate, it is not uncommon to see cars driving around with their windshields cleared off, but a mountain of snow on the roof of the car. Tractor-trailers face the same dilemma but on an ever larger scale—with a large surface area, they are prone to collecting large amounts of snow and ice that have the potential to blow off onto other vehicles on the road.
For car owners, it is simple enough to use a snow brush to clear off the roof of their vehicles, but truck drivers face a unique challenge. Accessing the top of the trailer is difficult at best, and downright dangerous in winter weather. Many truck drivers oppose the new rule, saying that it is unfair to be fined when the resources do not exist to easily remove accumulation on top of their trailer.
Is There a Solution for Trucks to Comply Safely?
While many independent truck drivers are hesitant to believe that snow removal can be done safely, some area trucking companies are already ahead of the curve. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley, as well as other companies that include an area Walgreen’s distribution center and A. Duie Pyle, has introduced game-changing snow removal equipment.
While Walgreens relies on a de-icing system, A. Duie Pyle and Coca-Cola use a snow scraper that trucks drive under. An inexpensive system, Boscola has praised the ingenuity and safety-mindedness of the scraper.
What You Can Do to Stay Safe
Until the bills advance to law, there are several ways that you can stay safe on our roads and highways during snow season. First, always make sure that your own car is completely clear of snow and ice. A bump or quick stop could send a thick layer of snow over your windshield unexpectedly, leaving you with zero visibility—the extra minute or two it takes to brush the snow off of your roof and hood are well worth the trouble.
Another key safety tip is to follow vehicles—especially trucks—at a safe distance. Falling chunks of ice and snow may not be completely avoidable, but leaving yourself ample time to react can be the difference between a scare and an injury.
If you have been hurt by snow or ice falling off of a truck or car, you deserve compensation for your injury and damage. Our firm can help ensure that your rights are protected—contact our Harrisburg or West Shore offices today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.