If you’re a truck driver who regularly drives in snowy, frozen conditions, your truck and trailer can be a serious hazard to others on the road. If snow and ice is allowed to build up over days, it can become out right lethal.
In 1999, New Hampshire driver Jessica Smith was killed after a huge piece of ice slid from the top of a trailer and smashed into her vehicle. The state responded by passing a law known as Jessica’s Law in 2002. Simply put, the law states that drivers who don’t remove ice and snow from their vehicles can be cited and fined in the state of New Hampshire. Since then, several other states have passed an enacted snow and ice clearing laws. Aside from hefty fines, when pulled over, drivers are also required to climb on top of their trailers and clear them before being allowed to continue driving.
The following is a current list of states with such laws:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Even in states that don’t currently have laws on the books, drivers can still be cited for ice and snow slides using other state laws, based on negligence and similar state statutes and laws.
For example, the state of Massachusetts has no specific snow and ice laws on the books. However, they found a driver guilty of “transporting an unsecured load” in an ice related incident. Laws like this can be used to fine and punish truckers who fail to clean their rigs, even if no specific laws are on their books to address ice and snow.
So what is the answer? In an already busy job, where time is money and not everyone is nimble enough to jump on the roof and start shoveling…
First, if at all possible, try to park your rig in covered areas during heavy snow storms. Tarps can also be used to reduce snow and ice buildup.
Drivers should also perform a complete inspection prior to their trip to check for snow and ice sheets on their trailers. If you find snow, determine the best way to remove it without putting yourself at risk. If you climb on top of your rig, use fall protection and have a spotter to help you if you run into trouble.
If you drive frequently in icy, snowy areas, try to find facilities that perform semi snow clearing near your routes. Various machines and attachments designed for truck and trailer snow and ice removal are available at truck stops and service centers throughout most of the colder areas.
There is a charge for this service in most cases, but, the cost is minimal when you consider the risk of possible fines, extra vehicle weight, increased fuel consumption, and the potential fur seriously injuring or killing someone.