When you think of winter truck accidents in Detroit, most people think of snow and ice on the roads which could cause a truck to spin out of control. While this is a concern, it is not the only concern. There is another place that snow and ice could form as well: the tops of tractor trailers. If not properly cleared off, snow and ice on top of a tractor trailer could fly off as the trucker is driving. Recently, when a large chunk of ice and snow fell off a tractor trailer, it ended up hitting the windshield of an SUV, breaking the windshield, and causing the SUV driver to sustain an injury.
Prevention of crashes caused by snow and ice falling off trucks is important. Some states have already passed laws imposing an affirmative responsibility on truck drivers to clear off their trucks. Other states are considering the passage of such laws. Penske warns that truck drivers who travel throughout the country and who cross state lines must be aware of the different rules in the states they are crossing to so they will understand their obligations for the removal of snow and ice.
States Require Snow and Ice Removal to Reduce Truck Crash Risks
Trucking Info reported on some of the new efforts under way by states to make sure truckers are held accountable if they do not clear snow and ice off their vehicles. In one proposed law, there would be an affirmative responsibility to take reasonable steps for snow and ice removal imposed upon any trucks weighing 48,000 pounds or greater. Truckers could be pulled over and given a citation and fine just for failure to remove snow, even if nothing went wrong. If snow and ice wasn't removed and fell off the truck and caused property damage or an accident, the trucker would be fined up to $1,000.
When laws like this are passed, they can not only result in truckers facing fines but could also increase the likelihood a trucker would be held civilly liable if crash victims decided to sue the trucker. The victim of the truck accident could point to the safety law imposing an affirmative responsibility on the trucker to clear the truck. A violation of the safety law could create a presumption of negligence, making it easier for the victim to prevail in a civil case and recover compensation for truck accident losses.
Truckers are increasingly growing concerned about the responsibility being imposed on them as more states pass laws for snow and ice removal. Trucking Info, for example, indicates that it can be difficult to remove snow and ice, raising questions of exactly what reasonable efforts truckers would be required to expend. The tops of tractor trailers are usually made of a fiberglass material that cannot be walked on and that could be scratched or damaged when snow is being removed. Snow removal could require the purchase of expensive snow throwers, and could cause unreasonable delays in truck routes. Still, while these concerns are valid, the safety of motorists must be paramount.