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What’s in that cloud of snow you are following?

As the winter of 2015 drags on with yet more heavy snow in Franklin County, drivers will have another opportunity to experience the thrill of having snow and ice from other vehicles fly off and strike their windshield.

While commons sense would suggest all drivers would clear all of the snow from their vehicle before they begin driving, we have all seen a vehicle with “portholes” cleared in snow covering the windows. Sometimes you have had the misfortune to follow a “comet” with a dangerous cloud of snow following in its wake, obscuring your vision and potentially causing accidents.

And for a few, the misfortune can become deadly. In Pennsylvania, one senator has introduced a bill that would mandate the removal of snow from the roof of your vehicle. the bill was prompted by a constituent who was killed by ice falling from the top of a tractor-trailer.

Pennsylvania would join Connecticut and New Jersey with these laws. Some, like the trucking industry, question how practical such a requirement would be, as trailer roofs are high and removing snow could itself be dangerous.

Of course, it comes down to cost. The trucking industry does not want to go to the expense of building and maintaining snow removal equipment. And we do not really know how many of these accidents occur, as the data does not have sufficient detail to enable researchers to identify crashes or fatalities caused by falling ice and snow.

But they are not uncommon, as a driver in Minnesota this week escaped with minor injuries after ice from a truck crushed their windshield. They should be thankful that the federal regulations required the glass to be strong enough to withstand the impact. Otherwise, the driver’s family might be looking at the prospect of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Npr.com, “Not clearing the snow off your car before driving could cost you,” Jeff Brady,      March 3, 2015

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