When snow and ice collect on the top of tractor trailers, this can be very dangerous. Just recently, a truck accident occurred when ice fell off the top of a truck, broke the window of an SUV, and caused the driver of the SUV to sustain injury. Some states have laws on the books designed to prevent these types of truck accidents by imposing requirements on truck drivers to remove ice and show from their vehicles. Other states do not have such laws, but some are considering them.
Penske warns truck drivers to be aware of the rules for snow and ice as they travel across the country over the winter months. A trucker could cross into an area where snow and ice removal is mandatory and could be ticketed for failure to have cleared the truck appropriately. Truckers should follow best practices for snow removal not only to avoid the possibility of a citation but also to help keep people safe and prevent collisions and injuries due to truck wrecks from occurring.
A Truck Driver’s Responsibility for Snow and Ice Removal
Trucking Info recently reported on the efforts being made by states to prevent truck accidents that occur due to ice and snow. In one state, a new law was being proposed to make it an affirmative requirement to remove snow and ice on any commercial vehicle weighing 48,000 pounds or greater. If drivers failed to remove the ice and snow properly, they could be pulled over and fined. If snow or ice fell off the truck and caused an accident, the fine could reach up to $1,000 per incident.
A safety law like this one, which would impose an affirmative duty on truckers to take reasonable accommodations for snow and ice removal, could also help victims of truck accidents to pursue damage claims if accidents happened. The victims could point to the safety law imposing an affirmative responsibility and could thus argue that a presumption of negligence is created when a trucker has not removed the ice and snow. This could make it easier for truck accident victims to have truckers held liable for losses.
Many truck driver advocacy groups are concerned about the increasing number of states passing laws requiring snow and ice removal because snow and ice removal from the top of a tractor trailer can be a difficult process. Tractor trailers usually have tops made of sensitive fiber glass which cannot be walked on and it is imperative to avoid damaging the top of the tractor-trailer when attempting to remove snow and ice. There are snow and ice throwers that can be used, but these machines can cost thousands of dollars.
Penske indicates some truckers fulfill their obligations to remove snow and ice by using truck washes, while others do invest in the snow throwers. One recommendation is to try to wait until the sun has melted some of the snow and ice before trying to clear it, but this can lead to delays and when a shipment must be delivered on time it can be difficult to take the time to get the snow and ice removed fully.