With winter storms pounding Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region, many vehicles are on the road while carrying sheets of ice. Icy vehicles create a very real danger on the highways, especially when the ice on vehicles flies off and strikes vehicles to the rear. Accidents involving icy trucks are especially dangerous because the tops of trucks can form thick sheets of snow and ice that can come off in large chunks.
Large chunks of ice flying off trucks at 60 miles per hour have been known to cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Accidents range from ice breaking through windows and causing facial injuries to fatal head on collisions resulting from a blinded driver veering into oncoming traffic.
Some states have laws that require drivers of cars and trucks who do not clear snow off of their vehicles. Maryland law requires drivers to clear snow and ice from their vehicle lights and windows, but not from their hoods or roofs.
The problem of ice falling off of trucks is surprisingly common. The American Transportation Research Institute's 2009 study entitled "Snow and Ice Accumulation on Vehicles" included a survey of tractor-trailer drivers. In the survey, 35 percent of truck drivers responded that snow or ice had fallen from their vehicle and caused injury or property damage to another motorist. The study also asked drivers to rate various methods of removing ice from their vehicles, but 54 percent of the drivers responded that they rarely or never removed ice from the top of their vehicles.
With more than half of truck drivers reporting that they rarely clear ice from their trucks and more than one-third of them reporting an ice related accident, it appears that many truckers are negligently putting other motorists at risk.
Southern Maryland Online, "Iced Cars, Trucks Create Road Peril," Andy Marso, 1/19/2011