Pennsylvania Law Requires Drivers to Clear Snow and Ice from Vehicles

By Robyn D. Kazatsky
February 14, 2023

We were recently asked by a client whether the law in Pennsylvania requires the removal of ice and snow from vehicles before traveling on roadways.  This inquiry came after a large chunk of ice dislodged from a commercial motor vehicle, striking the windshield of the vehicle behind it, causing injury to the front seat passenger.  In light of that inquiry, we thought a quick recap of recent changes to Pennsylvania law were in order, especially during these cold winter months when bad weather may be just around the corner. 

It’s especially important to understand the current law in Pennsylvania since it recently changed in July 2022 when Governor Tom Wolf signed HB 1094 into law.  The bill was unanimously passed in the legislature after being introduced by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton) as “Christie’s Law” in honor of Christine Lambert of Palmer Township, who died after a large piece of ice dislodged from a passing box truck and crashed through her windshield on Christmas Day in 2005. 

Section 3721 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code now requires a driver of a motor vehicle or motor carrier vehicle on a highway to make “reasonable efforts” to remove accumulated ice or snow from the vehicle, including the hood, trunk and roof, within 24 hours after the cessation of falling snow or ice.  Penalties range from $50 per offense to $1,000 if the snow/ice has dislodged and causes death or serious bodily harm. Of course, motorists who suffer injuries as a result of another driver’s failure to act reasonably in removing snow/ice from their vehicle may also file a private negligence action seeking damages.

Christie’s Law does not apply to vehicles that are currently en route to a facility to remove snow/ice, if pulling over immediately would require a violation of workplace safety laws, or if it would be a threat to the health or safety of the driver.  That said, police are now legally permitted to pull over any driver if they believe accumulated snow/ice is a potential threat to other motorists.

It is well known that snow and ice removal has been a controversial topic in the trucking community for years.  While most drivers readily admit failing to remove snow and ice could be a potential safety hazard, they also argue it is unsafe and may not be possible for them to get on top of the trailer to remove snow/ice. 

But the law is the law, and if you’re driving through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, please remember you have 24 hours to clear snow and ice from your vehicle after the storm has passed!

If you would like to learn more about Christie’s Law or any issues regarding transportation law, please contact Robyn D. Kazatsky at 215-805-6807 or rkazatsky@lockgordon.com

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