Pa. Senate panel advances bill to beef up ban on snow-topped cars

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    A state Senate panel has advanced legislation beefing up an already-existing state law that allows police to fine drivers who don’t speedily clear snow and ice from the tops of their cars and trucks after heavy weather.

    On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved the bill sponsored by Sens. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, and Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, that gives drivers 24 hours to clean off their vehicles.

    In a statement, Boscola’s office said the legislation, known as “Christine’s Law,” would “help prevent tragedies like the one that befell Christine Lambert of Palmer Township in 2005. She died when a large piece of ice dislodged from a passing truck and crashed through her windshield. “

    Boscola said she’s been trying to “get this law on the books ever since that tragic accident 14 years ago. I am hopeful the full Senate will act on this legislation soon.”

    Under current law, drivers are only penalized when “serious bodily harm occurs from a snow or ice projectile,” Boscola’s office said. The new bill “would be more proactive, giving police officers discretion to pull over a vehicle where the buildup of ice or snow poses a potential hazard.”

    Specifically, the bill gives police probable cause to “stop any vehicle with snow on it,” a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police told the Capital-Star in February.

    The Pennsylvania State Police indicated support for similar legislation in 2015, and a version of the bill introduced last session passed through the Senate Transportation Committee in 2018.

    States such as New Jersey and Connecticut have already passed laws requiring motorists to clear the tops of their cars before getting on the road.

    An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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