Truck Roof Top Snow Removal

(The Telegraph, Hudson, NH; September 15, 2012) A man surrendered his truck license in a plea deal involving a Mason incident in which a large chunk of ice flew off the roof of his rig and injured another driver. Richard Corser, 74, of Royalston, Mass., was sentenced September 14, 2012 in Hillsborough County (NH) Superior Court. Corser agreed to a plea deal in which he permanently surrendered his commercial driver’s license. He also was sentenced to a year in county jail, suspended for three years if he stays out of trouble.

Corser will serve 200 hours of community service or pay a $1,000 fine – or serve 100 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine if he so chooses, said Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance. Corser, originally charged with a felony, pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor.

Corser was driving his tractor-trailer southbound on Route 31 in Mason on March 3, 2011, when a chunk of ice flew off his rig…. about 3 feet in diameter and 6 inches thick, landed on a northbound car’s front end and windshield, injuring Stanley Raczelowski, 64, of Westford, Mass head and face. The truck didn’t stop after the accident, and police identified the vehicle later from witness descriptions.

The state (NH) law requiring drivers to clear their cars of ice and snow was passed in 2002 in response to the death of Jessica Smith, who was killed in Peterborough when a 9-foot piece of ice flew from the top of an 18-wheeler, causing a chain-reaction crash. The driver wasn’t charged with a crime because New Hampshire had no law covering such a situation, so Smith’s parents lobbied legislators to pass what now is known as "Jessica’s Law."

NHTSA and ATA have done studies to see what can be done to remove snow and ice from trailer roofs. Below is a synopsis of their findings.

  • Trucks on the road have very limited options due to the unsafe nature of the cleaning process. (Drivers should never be allowed/required to climb onto the roof to clean off the snow and ice.)
  • There are no effective machines/processes for doing the removal
  • If you are at a truck stop or your terminal, you can move the vehicle inside to melt off the ice/snow
  • Ice coverage can be broken up if the driver has access to the inside of the trailer. Judicious use of a broom handle against the underside of the roof will break up the ice so that it slides off when brakes are applied prior to reaching highway speeds.
  • There are no easy answers, but several states now have legislation that prevents trucks from operating with snow or ice on their roof.
  • If snow/ice comes off the truck and causes injury to another motorist, the truck will pay, regardless of the difficulty of removing it.
  • If one is nearby, there is always the option of pulling into a truck wash and having them power wash the ice/snow off the roof.