Commentary: AAA supports bill requiring Delaware drivers to clear vehicles of ice and snow

If passed, newly introduced legislation would require drivers in the First State to clear their vehicle of snow and ice before getting on the road following a winter weather event. As a matter of safety, courtesy, and common sense, AAA Mid-Atlantic supports Senate Bill 58.

Anyone who drives I-95 or Route 1 during snowy weather has probably had to dodge snow or ice flying off the vehicle in front of them. Driving with accumulated snow or ice on top of a vehicle is a clear danger to other roadway users.

Ken Grant

AAA supports the proactive approach of giving law enforcement the authority to stop a vehicle when an officer believes that accumulated ice or snow on the vehicle poses a hazard. In the end, it is incumbent upon each of us as drivers to ensure our vehicles are not only safe for us, but for others on the road as well.

As proposed in Delaware:

• SB-58 would place a duty on drivers to clean ice and snow off of their vehicles prior to driving.

• Law enforcement would be able to stop vehicles they believe pose a threat to other roadway users with a civil penalty of not less than $25 or more than $75 for each offense

• However, if dislodged snow and ice strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing injury or property damage, civil penalties increase to not less than $200 or more than $1,000. The penalty for commercial vehicles will not be less than $500 or more than $1,500.

Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey have such laws on the books … and AAA publicizes “clearance of snow from vehicle” laws during snow storms.

Neighboring states:

• New Jersey – operator of a non-commercial vehicle is subject to a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000 for each offenses. Any vehicle with a dangerous accumulation of snow must have it removed before entering a public road — fines will be from $25 to $75.

• Pennsylvania — has a law in place applying to vehicles, fine ranging from $200 to not more than $1,000. But a bill has been reintroduced in the current session in Harrisburg requiring large trucks and commercial vehicles to remove snow and ice.

AAA believes that SB-58 would reduce the number and seriousness of crashes caused by snow or ice becoming dislodged from motor vehicles.

Senate Bill 58 is sponsored by State Sen. Laura Sturgeon and has been assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Ken Grant is Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Delaware.

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