Ice sheets form on the top of semi-trucks when the trucks are pulled out of warehouses and melted snow meets cold outdoor temperatures, creating ice. Sometimes, ice can form during driving if there is precipitation. But the problem is not limited to just the winter time – debris such as concrete has also been reported to have been thrust off a truck’s top when it clears an underpass.
The Chicago Daily Herald has reported on the problem and located three cases just like the one described above. The Herald provides details of Tim Giometti’s accident, which happened when a truck clipped a 14-foot tall bridge and dislodged ice that had accumulated on the top of the truck. The ice smashed into Giometti’s hood and windshield, causing nearly $11,000 worth of damage to his Honda CR-V. Pete Morano, another Chicago-area resident suffered broken bones in his eye and nose after a similar accident. His injuries are startlingly serious, bringing the seriousness of the problem to the forefront. “The sheet of ice hit directly on the windshield, broke the windshield and sprayed the glass into my face,” said Morano. He is waiting to see if the vision in his eye will return, or be utterly lost. Morano required extensive surgery after the accident, and said he lost so much blood that he was afraid he might bleed to death. The driver of the truck whose debris and ice fell on Morano’s car didn’t even stop to help.
No laws in Illinois require motorists to clean snow or ice off their trucks or cars – not even for commercial truckers. And more than half of all truckers don’t clear ice and snow from the tops of their trailers. Some have suggested that trucking companies enact new rules that require drivers to clean the tops of their trucks before hitting the roads. But during the winter months, this could require truckers to climb onto the top of their trucks, which are often covered with snow and ice. A less dangerous option might be to install “scraping mechanisms” that trucks can drive under at truck stops and gas stations, having the same effect of pushing the ice and debris off of the truck as it passes by – but without creating injured victims like Giometti and Morano. However, this may not solve the problem of ice and snow that accumulates in between stops. The trucking industry agrees that accumulated snow and ice are a problem, but the lack of available and affordable removal devices leads many to shrug and call the problem “impossible.” But that may not be the case. Last year, then- New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed a law that sets fines for vehicles with dangerous accumulations of snow. The law is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
Barry Doyle, Esq.