One Maine legislative panel has advanced an amended bill to address concerns about snow and ice removal from atop certain vehicles.
Maine law requires all vehicle loads to be properly secured to prevent falling.
The Legislature’s Committee on Transportation voted unanimously to advance a revised bill that clarifies snow or ice resulting from a snow event are included in the protection.
Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, said his pursuit is intended to encourage motorists to take measures to “reasonably prevent” snow or ice from falling off the vehicle.
Large vehicle exemption
The amended bill, LD522, would exempt vehicles with a registered weight above 10,000 pounds. As a result, commercial vehicles would be exempt from the rule.
Incidents that cause property damage or physical injury would result in $50 fines.
Maine State Police Lt. Bruce Scott clarified to the committee that motorists would only be in violation if snow or ice falling from a vehicle causes property damage or injury.
He said drivers must take “reasonable steps” to prevent a problem.
Another deleted provision called for snow to be cleared from a vehicle within 48 hours after a snow event.
The provision was removed once commercial vehicles were exempted.
White referenced concerns voiced about the truck provision for the changes.
“Obviously, it is a little more difficult for them to get up and clear those off,” he told the committee.
Truck groups welcome revisions
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association welcomes the “common-sense approach” to the safety issue.
The Maine Motor Transport Association was among opponents of the original bill.
MMTA Vice President Tim Doyle said his group recognizes there is no easy solution to the issue.
“Clearing the snow and ice from passenger vehicles is relatively easy and safe to accomplish,” Doyle said in written testimony. “Clearing the snow and ice from commercial trucks, however, is not easy, safe, and sometimes not even possible.”
He said that drivers on the road have very few publicly available options for clearing snow from trailer roofs.
Doyle added that his group appreciates White’s effort to find compromise.
LD522 next heads to the House and Senate floors.
Other state’s actions on the issue
Rules covering concerns about accumulations atop vehicles are in place in states that include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Advocates say a snow and ice rule make enforcement easier. Others say it creates a significant deterrent for not cleaning off a vehicle following a snow or ice storm. LL