New Law Aims To Improve Winter Driving Safety

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800px-UK_snow_February_2,_2009_img010TRENTON – A new law requires New Jersey drivers to make a “reasonable effort” to remove accumulated ice or snow from their motor vehicle – including the hood and trunk – or face a fine. Anyone who violates this provision may be stopped by a law enforcement officer.

“We’ve all seen some drivers neglect to clean their vehicles and continue to create a hazard on the roads, even after road conditions improve and the weather clears,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the Assembly transportation panel chairman. “At the least, snow or ice falling from a vehicle may impair visibility for other drivers or shatter a windshield. At the worst, it could take a life.”

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“Current law imposes fines only if falling ice or snow causes an injury or damage, but the sensible thing to do is to try to ensure that injury or damage never occurs to begin with,” said Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson). “Cleaning off your car not only increases your visibility to other drivers, but it also prevents snow and ice from flying off of your vehicle and damaging other cars.”

The driver will be subject to a fine of not less than $25 or more than $75, regardless of whether any snow or ice is dislodged from the motor vehicle.  No motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points will be assessed for this offense. No person shall be subject to more than one fine for a violation in a 24-hour period.

Also, commercial motor vehicle drivers won’t be subject to a fine if the driver is traveling to a location with snow and ice removal equipment or technology, provided that the driver has not already passed such a location before being stopped.

Only the person who is in physical possession of the vehicle at the time snow or ice accumulates on the vehicle shall be liable for a violation.

Under the law, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety will establish and maintain a data collection system to determine the number and seriousness of motor vehicle accidents caused by snow or ice becoming dislodged from motor vehicles, the findings of which  shall be reported to the Legislature annually.

Fines imposed under the law, which takes effect in one year, will be used for a “Motor Vehicle Snow and Ice Removal Safety Fund.” Besides offsetting the cost associated with a public awareness campaign established by the division, the fund will also be used to:

• Offset the costs associated with the data collection system established and maintained by the division, and

• Establish a grant program, administered by the division, to provide incentives to encourage private companies to purchase, install and maintain snow and ice removal equipment and technology to be placed at locations around the state that are convenient and easily accessible to commercial motor vehicles.


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