Call to require Pa. drivers to clear vehicles of snow and ice

Written by Rachel McDevitt/Radio Pennsylvania | Jan 29, 2016 3:49 AM

FILE PHOTO: AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Harrisburg) -- The state Senate Transportation Committee has held a hearing on a propoosal requiring all motorists, especially operators of large trucks, to fully clear their vehicles of snow and ice before getting on the road. 

Frank Lambert of the Lehigh Valley was one of the first to testify at this week's hearing.

He gave a subdued but emotional account of how his wife of nearly 40 years was killed when a 10-inch thick slab of ice fell off a tractor trailer and crashed through the windshield of their car. 

"This is a picture of my wife that we saw at 1:18 in the afternoon, while we were talking. At 1:19 in the afternoon, that wasn't there anymore to look at. I didn't have a wife with a complete head. The whole left side of her head was completely removed," he said. "The only that was left was her eye on the right hand side and her ear."

Maj. Edward Hoke, director of patrol for the State Police, says the measure as it stands makes the requirement too subjective.

"We believe this wording is highly problematic. It is a highly subjective standard and would be difficult to prove, whether or not the person met it," he said. "Left in its present form, it may create confusion for drivers and law enforcement, requiring clarification by the courts."

Representatives with the trucking industry said there is no safe way they're aware of to get ice off the tops of trailers.

Joe Butzer, president and CEO of Advantage Truck Leasing in Lititz, Lancaster County, said complying with the bill would be difficult, given the lack of the proper tools and technology.

"In my particular case, there was an inch of ice on the trailer -- just overnight. I wish there was a way we could get that off," he said. "But unfortunately, I don't know of any now and our industry's been looking at it for more than 15 years.

At this, he bill's sponsor, Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola of Lehigh County, grabbed her microphone.

"So, we should just allow the truck to just continue is what you're saying?" she says. "Give me a solution, please. I want to work with you. Give me a solution, because the solution is not to allow that unsafe truck to continue down the roadway."

Boscola says fines levied because of her bill could fund ice removal equipment available to the public, so lives can be saved.

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