Capitol Connection: Ice Missiles & Winter Road Safety

January 2, 2014

Have you ever witnessed ice fly off the top of a car or truck in front of you while driving?

Sometimes flying snow is simply annoying, but when larger chunks of ice soar towards your car it can get scary. That piece of ice could shatter your windshield, damage your tires and cause dangerous accidents.

To prevent hazardous road incidents caused by flying ice, the “ice missile bill” goes into full effect this week, requiring everyone to clean off snow and ice from the tops of their cars and tractor trailers before driving.

The idea floated around the Connecticut General Assembly for many years and was officially proposed in 2008. The law finally passed on May 5, 2010, but only because the effective date was delayed until the end of 2013.

The resistance to the law came from tractor trailer operators who argued that there was no realistic way to remove ice buildup from the tops of their trucks, and they needed time to figure out a solution.

Since passage of the bill, a new product was developed to clean the roofs of tractor trailers. The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut now promotes the use of a curved roof rake for tractor trailers that can actually reach the center of truck roofs. The product costs about $150 – a small fee for a simple solution that really can save lives.

Some may view this new law as a hassle, but I believe it is a necessary safety measure. Every year we only have a few months of snow in Connecticut. During that short period of time we can all take the extra step to make sure our vehicles do not contribute to dangerous winter driving conditions.

Enforcement of the new law is at the discretion of the police, and I personally urge everyone to follow this important safety precaution.

If you do not follow the law, not only are you potentially putting other drivers at risk, but you can also be fined. A $75 fine applies to those who drive with snow and ice falling off their vehicles. If the ice or snow hits another vehicle and causes damage, commercial drivers face fines of $500 to $1,250 while all other drivers face fines of $200 to $1,000.

While this was a controversial issue for commercial drivers, the law is essential to keeping our roads safe during the winter months. We all have to remember to take just a few extra minutes to clean off our vehicles. I can live with this extra chore for a few months of the year in exchange for safer roads and saved lives.