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Via John Lemieux/Flickr
Via John Lemieux/Flickr

I have been called numerous times about collisions that occur when a large block of snow or ice is blown from the top of a trailer and causes a crash. The laws in several states, along with available technology, show that this type of collision is avoidable.

Laws in various states

Just this year, Pennsylvania became the latest state to consider requiring truckers to make “all reasonable efforts” to remove all ice or snow from the vehicles, including the roof of the truck trailer. The bill would allow police officers to pull over truck drivers if they believe the “ice or snow may pose a threat to persons or property.” Truck drivers would face fines between $25 and $75.

Several other states already have similar laws:

  • In New Jersey, drivers can be fined $25-$75 for failing to remove accumulated ice and $200-$1,000 if the ice flies off and causes injury or property damage.
  • In Pennsylvania, drivers can be fined $200-$1,000 if snow or ice flies from their vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian, causing death or serious bodily injury.
  • Washington allows police to stop drivers for traveling with accumulated ice on their vehicles, but the offense does not carry a fine.

What trucking companies are doing

Heavy snow and ice buildup on trucks and trailers can increase the odds of an accident on the roadway. For many truckers, the added weight from the snow or ice can also reduce their fuel mileage and damage their equipment. To avoid these problems and potential road hazards, trucking companies are using a variety of specialized snow-removal systems to clear the tops of their semis. Here are just a few of them:

A. Duie Pyle Inc. The trucking company is equipping each of its terminals with plow-like devices from Scraper Systems to remove snow and ice from its trailers.

Boston Trailer The trailer-leasing company has purchased a system from TrucBrush Corp. Its broom-like device connects to a front-end loader and is powered by the loader’s hydraulic system to clear snow from the tops of tractor-trailers.

M&M Transport Services The Massachusetts trucking company also uses the TrucBrush system at one of its 17 terminals to make it safer to remove snow.


The Bottom Line

Trucking companies should make every effort to keep snow and ice from atop their trailers during the winter months. Failing to do so creates a major liability for the company that could not only lead to fatalities on the road but civil litigation and hefty fines. It’s just not worth the risks in the end. If you’ve been injured due to snow or ice that wasn’t cleared from the top of tractor trailer, you should contact a truck accident attorney.

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