Truck drivers who cross state lines encounter different rules and regulations and must be aware of state-specific laws. One big issue that arises for truckers during the winter is laws on clearing the accumulation of snow and ice that can form on a truck. When snow and ice forms on a truck, this creates a risk of truck accidents because it can fly off as a trucker drives. Other vehicles or pedestrians could be hurt or even killed if the snow and ice affects their visibility or causes them to lose control of their own vehicles.
Trucking Laws on Clearing Snow and Ice
Penske cautions truckers on the importance of knowing the rules for snow and ice accumulation removal across different states. There are several states which already require removal and impose fines for failure, while other states - including some that neighbor West Virginia - are currently in the process of considering laws. For example, Trucking Info reported on pending legislation in Pennsylvania imposing an affirmative responsibility for removal of snow accumulation on any trucks above 48,000 pounds. Under this proposed law, if a trucker fails to remove snow and ice, police could pull the driver over and impose a fine between $25 and $75 even if no snow or ice actually falls off the truck. If snow or ice does fall off and causes serious bodily injury or death, the trucker could be fined between $200 and $1,000.
Many truckers are concerned about states increasingly cracking down on the removal of snow and ice. There are several problems for truckers. One issue is the time it can take to remove snow and ice, which can be difficult if there are pressing deliveries to be made and a schedule to be kept. Another problem is the difficulty of actually removing the snow and ice. The tops of tractor trailers are fiberglass and walking on them is not possible. The tops can also become scratched easily during the snow removal process, making damage a real possibility. Dedicated snow removers exist, but Penske indicates these are prohibitively expensive for many truck drivers. Some truckers go to truck washes to try to remove snow and ice, but this is not always effective at getting off all accumulations.
Despite the challenges, however, snow and ice is a real safety issue. Truck drivers need to know their obligations as they drive across state lines in the winter. A law requiring snow and ice removal not only creates the potential for a fine but can also increase the chances a trucker will be held liable if a crash happens. Crash victims can point to the law requiring snow and ice removal as creating a presumption of negligence if the driver fails to fulfill the affirmative obligation imposed by state law to remove the accumulated snow and ice before getting on the road.