The Lead

State senators will try again to ban snow-topped cars from Pa. roads

By: - February 20, 2019 5:36 pm

Snow falls on the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Source: Pennsylvania Senate Democrats.

If you’re a driver in the Keystone State, there’s a good chance you’ll wake up to a car encased in snow and ice tomorrow morning.

You’d be forgiven for wanting to give the windows a hasty sweep before driving off under a snow-capped roof. But two lawmakers want to that a punishable offense.

Last month, Senators Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh, and Daniel Laughlin, R-Erie, introduced a bill that would allow police to fine drivers who failed to remove snow and ice from the top of their vehicles. The legislation would apply to all motor vehicles, including commercial automobiles and trucks.

“Many times while driving on our roadways, we have all been the victim of falling snow and ice coming from other vehicles,” the lawmakers write in a memo accompanying the bill. “This is not only extremely dangerous, but can also lead to injuries and fatalities.”

They point to the 2005 death of Lehigh Valley resident Christine Lambert as one tragedy their bill could have prevented. Lambert died on Christmas Day in 2005 after a slab of ice dislodged from the roof of a truck and smashed through her windshield, striking her fatally in the head.

Boscola has tried before to pass the same bill under the name “Christine’s Law.” 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 driving, Boscola and Laughlin said.

“This is common sense legislation that would prevent further injuries or fatalities from happening,” they write. “Pennsylvania should join these others by enacting the same type of legislation.”

Update, Feb. 22:

As a reader pointed out on Twitter, Pennsylvania statute already provides law enforcement with a mechanism to fine drivers when snow or ice is coming off a vehicle.

The new Senate bill would give police probable cause to “stop any vehicle with snow on it,” said Trooper Brent Miller, director of communications for the State Police.

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.