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Update on New Jersey's Recent Vehicle De-Icing Law

New Jersey residents have had two months-plus experience now with the newly enacted law that became effective October 20 concerning snow and ice removal from vehicles. We briefly summarized that law for our readers in a November 9 motor vehicle accident post and note some related developments here.

First, New Jersey State Police and local police are following through on what they promised, which is routine stops and fines assessed motorists who aren't complying with their "affirmative duty" under state statute to keep ice and snow off their vehicles.

And what law enforcement officials mean by "off of vehicles" goes far beyond accumulated debris on windshields and windows. That is the law, for example, in Pennsylvania, but a New Jersey motorist can be fined for snow or ice on any surface part of his or her vehicle, including hood, trunk lid and roof.

That is a lot of car or truck to contemplate after a major storm, but residents are routinely complying. Police, too, seem to be giving some preliminary passes to motorists who have clearly made a good-faith attempt. Sgt. Stephen Jones, a New Jersey State Police spokesman, says that troopers are targeting foremost "the most egregious vehicles," the ones with drivers that police call "tank commanders" for their minimal efforts to only remove enough ice and/or snow from a window for minimal visibility.

The American trucking industry states that there are no statistics available concerning accidents caused by snow and ice on vehicles, but a recent study prepared for the group notes that the worst accidents caused by airborne ice involve trucks.

New Jersey wants truckers, too, to keep their vehicles free of debris, but acknowledges the practical problems in sometimes doing so, as well as the worker safety laws that bar truckers from climbing on top of their rigs. The state will not ticket drivers of trucks laden with snow if they can demonstrate that they are traveling to a snow-removal station.

Related Resource: www.nytimes.com "Clear the Snow Before You Go" December 17, 2010

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