ATA set to review snow-removal ideas

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The American Trucking Associations says it will seek new ways to help truckers remove ice and snow from atop their rigs without endangering themselves, the Associated Press reported Sunday, March 9. ATA said in a letter to Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell that big-rig drivers share her concerns about dangers that airborne snow and ice pose to other drivers.

The announcement comes as Connecticut legislators weigh penalties for drivers who cause crashes or injuries specifically because they neglected to clear their vehicles’ roofs, the AP reported; the result can be what Rell calls “ice missiles,” large sheets of snow and ice that fly into traffic and can break windshields or cause other damage to nearby vehicles.

Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, said it is asking the American Transportation Research Institute to study the issue, and to suggest new technology or equipment that helps truckers clear their roofs without the dangers of slipping off. “(Our) members have struggled to find practical approaches to resolving the problem,” Graves wrote in his letter to Rell, which was delivered Friday, March 7, to state lawmakers.

Michael Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, told the AP that ATA’s letter puts the concerns in a national light and might prompt solutions that benefit all sides. “It’s a real problem, and you can’t just say you can’t do anything about it anymore,” Riley told the AP. “Together we’ll make an honest effort at trying to figure out what we can do about it. This attention is a good thing, and Connecticut can take some of the credit for that.”

The Connecticut legislature’s Transportation Committee on Friday, March 7, approved a measure that would prompt fines of $200 to $1,000 for drivers who leave snow and ice on their vehicles, causing a crash or injury when it dislodges and flies off; the AP reported; it wouldn’t apply if a car is parked and the accumulation flies off because of heavy winds or other factors, nor would it require people to pull over and clear their roofs if the snow and ice builds as they are driving through a storm.

The bill, which next goes to the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, would go into effect June 1, 2009, if approved by the General Assembly, according to the AP; New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only states that currently have specific snow and ice rules on the books, although police in Connecticut and elsewhere can ticket drivers for causing unsafe conditions.