The Dangers of Ice and Snow Atop Semi-trailer Trucks

Peter Morano of Aurora, Illinois is lucky to be alive.

Last Monday Morano was driving to the day care center his wife owns when what he describes as a “white bomb” hit his car. The white bomb was a sheet of ice that struck his car’s windshield, broke it, and scattered glass into his face severely injuring him.

“There was blood everywhere, pouring from my head, nose and my eye. I was scared that I was losing so much blood that I was going to die,” Morano told the Chicago Tribune. Luckily for Morano he was able to slam on his brakes, shove aside the large piece of windshield that was pinning him to his seat, and stumble out of his car where a nurse who happened along administered first aid while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

The sheet of ice that smashed into Morano’s car as he traveled along Butterfield Road in Aurora that morning came from the top of a passing semitrailer truck. There are no laws on the books in Illinois requiring motorists to clear ice or snow from their vehicles.

The large surface area atop a typical semi-trailer truck could carry a significant amount of ice or snow, and as Morano’s case illustrates, that ice or snow could dislodge and become a dangerous projectile at any point in the vehicle’s journey.

Last year New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation that requires drivers to make all reasonable efforts to remove snow or ice from their vehicle, including the roof, hood, truck and windshield. According to a State of New Jersey DOT news release, that law is currently being enforced in the state with failure to comply resulting in fines of $25 to $75. On October 20, 2010 a revised version of the law goes into effect, which will require drivers of commercial and passenger vehicles to remove accumulated ice and snow from all exposed surfaces on a vehicle prior to operation. Failure to comply with the revised version of the law will result in fines of $200 to $1,000.

I fully support New Jersey’s action in addressing this serious safety issue and believe that other states should follow suit. From what Peter Morano’s wife, Debbie, told the Tribune, I believe she would agree:

“I’m very grateful that it wasn’t worse,” she said. “But the fact that someone can just drive around like that and have no regard for where that ice is going, I think it’s criminal. Pete could have been killed, and that keeps going through my head.”

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