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Winter Conditions Requires Safe Solutions

I was recently driving from Montreal to Toronto in less than ideal circumstances. This trip took place in December and during this trip, several times I saw snow coming off the roof of a trailer.

It is irresponsible of our industry to continually allow trailers on the roadway that cause a significant danger. I was recently reading a submission from a lawyer who had been hired to prosecute a trucking company for this type of incident. Unfortunately, falling snow and ice had resulted in the death of the car driver. The lawyer was seeking compensation for the family. It is my opinion that the family deserves compensation. They have lost a loved one and it was our industry’s fault. I am asking readers for solutions to a difficult situation and of course the reason I’m asking for solutions is because I cannot come up with any on my own. We live in Canada and in the winter, Canada produces snow and ice which have long been enemies of the trucking industry. But the situation I’m trying to address exists only when the ice is on the trailer tops. How do we find a solution to this issue that only happens 3 to 4 months of the year? Whose responsibility is it to clear the snow?

This is a tough question to answer. I can assure you of one thing though. Charges have been laid against truck drivers and companies for having objects fall from their vehicles. In many jurisdictions they have written specific laws regarding snow on the roof of trailers. If you’re in a province that does not have a specific law in this regard, you can still be charged for causing unsafe conditions.

I know that several trucking companies have installed different snow removal devices in their yards to help alleviate the situation. What should our industry do about those thousands of snow covered trailers that are dropped at the customer’s facilities? Who is removing the snow from them? How about the thousands of trailers that are in transit and the driver takes his ten hours off-duty and wakes up to find a foot of snow on the roof of this trailer? How is the driver to remove the snow when he/she may be thousands of miles from home?

This is a difficult challenge. Each company has the responsibility to provide their employees and drivers a safe working environment. To ask a driver to somehow get up on the roof of the trailer and clear off snow without providing proper and safe equipment to do so, is irresponsible.

To equip each yard where a trailer may be parked with equipment to facilitate safe snow clearing is a huge financial responsibility and cost. I don’t see that happening.

In the province of New Brunswick they have provided catwalks at the facility scales so that a driver may safely remove snow from the rooftop.  This is a huge help. But there may be many miles between where the trailer has been parked and the scale and thus the driver must travel on the highway in order to get to this facility. What happens to that snow? This still causes a very dangerous situation for motorists. But at least New Brunswick has done something!  Most other jurisdictions do not provide any help to the drivers.

Do we wish that the government steps in and makes new regulations? Or do we the trucking industry take responsibility and try to find a way to fix this ourselves?

Drivers, remember that you are operating the vehicle and you are the one that is ultimately causing the unsafe condition for the motorist behind you if you have snow and ice on the roof of your trailer. Yow will be held responsible if you cause a collision so be careful out there.