Driving without cleaning car of snow and ice could be fineable offense under Boscola proposal

Driving without cleaning car of snow and ice could be fineable offense under Boscola proposal

Author: Stephen Caruso/Tuesday, December 18, 2018/Categories: News and Views

Between a clouded windshield, nervous drivers and slick conditions, driving in winter has enough hazards without someone who left a hat of snow and ice on their vehicle.

Pennsylvania already has laws that make it a fine if the frozen debris falls on another driver and leads to death or serious injury, passed in 2006.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) was a champion of the legislation then, and “icy missiles” coming off of trucks on I-78 or I-80 have cost her a side mirror. More than that, snow falling off a truck even cost a constituent of Boscola’s their life over a decade ago on Christmas Eve.

The death helped push Boscola for the original language, which passed the Senate 42-7 with some other vehicle code changes.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, 27 people have been cited under the law since 2010. That does not include citations from local police.

The maximum fine under the law, after someone has already been harmed, is $1,000. But Boscola hopes to make the law more preventive.

“It would create the ability for police officers, when they see dangers with flying snow and ice, they could pull over an individual who’s driving the vehicle and pay a fine of $25 to $75 dollars,” Boscola said of the language. “[They] get the message immediately.”

Kevin Stewart, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said the trade group originally had concerns around driver’s safety trying to clean any leftover snow or ice off a high truck.

“The last thing we want to do is put a driver into jeopardy, climbing 13 feet, six inches in the air,” Stewart said.

However, the bill now includes provisions that give a driver until 24 hours after a storm to clean, as well as a reprieve if they are on the way to a facility to clean their trucks or if they’d violate federal labor laws to clean up themselves.

This let the industry back the proposal, Stewart said. There’s been a proliferation of new devices, including a brush-mounted front end loader, to aid in clearing away the snowy mess.

The proposal would also apply to the state’s drivers as well. Boscola said she’s heard occasional complaints from average motorists for the proposal, but “whether it’s [a] truck or your own vehicle, it’s your obligation.”

While the bill made it through the Senate last session — SB 435 passed without a dissenting vote in April — the House never picked it up. She’s floating the memo with Republican colleague Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie), which she hopes will help in the House.

There are also question marks over who’ll head the committee it’ll land in. Former House Transportation Committee Chair John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) retired this year, while Senate Transportation Chair John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) lost his reelection bid.

Stephen Caruso is the Harrisburg bureau chief at The PLS Reporter. Have a question, comment or tip? Email him at stephen@mypls.com or call at 845-891-4306.